Metabolomics-Enabled Molecular Probing of Nutrient (Carbon and Phosphorus) Recycling by Bacterial and Mineral Catalysts
Capturing nutritional values from the transformation of organic matter represents an important component in both natural carbon cycling and in engineered carbon recycling. A mechanistic understanding of this transformation through both biotic and abiotic catalytic means is required to predict natural processes and innovate engineering applications. Bacterial cellular metabolism has the potential to recycle organic matter to yield biofuel products, bioplastic monomers, antibiotic molecules, and other valuable products. Reactive soil minerals can catalyze the transformation of organic matter and subsequently release or trap nutrients important to ecosystem metabolism. Using mass spectrometry-based metabolomics approaches combined with several spectroscopic (X-ray, infrared) and computational approaches (molecular dynamics, numerical analysis), we have gained insights on mineral- and bacteria-catalyzed nutrient recycling in environmental organic processes.
This talk will highlight two research advances: (1) the metabolic network for simultaneous processing of aromatic and sugar monomers by soil bacteria and (2) the speciation complexity of phosphorus and carbon recycling by iron-bearing minerals. The findings provide important new insights into the metabolic versatility of certain soil bacteria and the diversity of catalytic specificity of soil minerals. These insights provide new grounds for technological advances in metabolic engineering, agriculture, and environmental engineering.
Dr. Aristilde obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California-Berkeley, and B.Sc. and B.F.A. degrees from Cornell University. Prof. Aristilde started her faculty career at Cornell University (Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering) as an Assistant Professor in 2012 and promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2018. Prof. Aristilde joined the Northwestern Faculty in 2019.