Automated high-throughput characterization of microbiome composition and diversity

The mineral mining industry in Canada is rapidly shifting toward more sustainable practices that reduce the environmental impacts of extraction, wastewater, and emissions. Although often overlooked, microorganisms, or bacteria, living in the soils and water of mine sites and mining waste materials, collectively known as the ““mining microbiome”, exert strong influence on all stages of the mining life cycle. For example, microorganisms may cause corrosion of equipment via biofouling (corrosion), or be essential to mine cleanup through processes known as bioremediation. In order to transition mining practices towards a more sustainable future, understanding these complex microbial communities and developing technologies to control or influence microbial communities is necessary next step. To this end, Koonkie Canada Inc. is a proud member of the international cyber-infrastructure development project “Mining Microbiome Analytics Platform (MMAP)”. MMAP will provide a database and software ecosystem supporting breakthroughs in microbiome-based resource exploration, extraction, mine closure and remediation. This research proposal focuses on the creation of one of several data processing pipelines needed to characterize the DNA of the mining microbiome, with the goal of reducing harms and bolstering benefits of the mining microbiome.

Brandon Kieft
Faculty Supervisor: 
Steven Hallam
British Columbia
Partner University: