RII Track-2 FEC: Building Genome-to-Phenome Infrastructure for Regulating Methane in Deep and Extreme Environments (BuG ReMeDEE)
Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere which results in undesirable changes to the climate. The recent surge in methane emissions has invigorated interest of the scientific community to explore the contributions of living microorganisms to both the production and the breakdown of methane. To more deeply understand these processes, this Research Infrastructure Improvement Track-2 Focused EPSCoR Collaborations (RII Track-2 FEC) award will form a new collaborative consortium of three institutions (South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Montana State University and University of Oklahoma) for an integrated research and education effort that will focus on organisms that metabolize methane in extreme environments. Sanford Underground Research Facility and Yellowstone National Park will be used as testbeds for extreme environments in deep biosphere and thermal systems, respectively. Further, this consortium will enable the use of previously unexplored and novel microorganisms from extreme environments for biological conversion of atmospheric methane into commercial products including liquid biofuels, biopolymers, and direct current electricity. The project will provide career guidance for twelve early career faculty as well as education, training, and workforce development opportunities for a diverse cohort of junior researchers and graduate, undergraduate, and Native American high school students. Exchange visits among the consortium partners and industry engagement in the project enriches the educational of the student participants.