Prolegomenon

The journey begins

Our team focuses on unraveling the complex interaction between bacteria and metals looking at several key aspects such as biomineralization and anaerobic respiration based on “exotic” elements. We are particularly focused on elucidating the biomineralization of selenium (Se) under anaerobic conditions where this element is used as a terminal electron acceptor (ancient strategy for cellular energy generation). Other biominerals of interest are PbS (galena) and As2S3 (orpiment), important resources for global economy. An additional research direction aims at recovering secondary resources from industrial effluents (“circular economy”) using microbial metabolism or the chemistry of such complex systems. We perform bioremediation on metal-laden industrial effluents with the aim of looking for alternative solutions to mitigate environmental pollution and coupling it with resource recovery.

On our quest we use cell biological, biochemical, and genetic approaches, coupled with electron microscopy and materials science analysis. Our efforts are supported by national and international funding and by numerous collaborators across Europa and USA. Apart from laboratory activity, a number of editorial projects at FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Frontiers in Microbiology and Goldschmidt2021 (Lyon, France) keep us and the mascot Mitza the tabby cat busy and creative.

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.
― Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859)

Elegant Spirillum and its selenium biomineralization product (white globule) [personal archive of Dr. Staicu]

Cover photo: Galway harbor (Connemara Region, Ireland) (02/2017)