Rm: 3517 Bioscience Complex
Tel: (613) 533-6141
Faculty Web Site: http://www.queensu.ca/biology/people/faculty/lefebvre.html
RESEARCH AREA/POTENTIAL PROJECTS
Bioremediation is the use of living organisms to remove or neutralize undesirable chemicals and metals in the environment. We investigate this by using fungi, microorganisms and plants to absorb, adsorb, precipitate and degrade these contaminants. Our efforts concentrate on determining which species and subspecies are most effective and why, at the biochemical level, and to ascertain the genetic basis for this. Recently we have discovered that the heavy metal, mercury, is precipitated via sulfide production in algae and microfungi under aerobic conditions (Applied and Environmental Microbiology 72: 361 & 73: 243). We have also just identified two species of fungi that look extremely promising in the degradation of recalcitrant industrial dyes. Our field work quantifies chemicals that are volatilized from trees planted on old chemical dump sites. In this regard, we are making progress in the understanding of the effects of complex chemical cocktails on phytoremediation in the field, including the high suppression of transpiration.
Projects include lab work on the mechanisms of aerobic heavy-metal precipitation by algae and cyanobacteria, and of fungal degradation of industrial waste chemicals in bioreactors. Field projects involve trapping and quantifying volatilized chemicals and measuring evapo-transpiration from genetically diverse hybrid poplar trees.
Supervise two to four students.
STARTING DATE:September (May possible)