--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--
August 16, 2012
Rock-Eating Bacteria are the Focus of Bigelow Laboratory Last Café Scientifique of the Summer Season
EAST BOOTHBAY, ME –On Tuesday August 28, Bigelow Laboratory’s final Café Scientifique of the 2012 summer season will feature a discussion by geomicrobiologist Dr. Joyce McBeth titled Rock-Eaters—Exploring the Lives of Bacteria that Eat and Breathe Metals and Minerals. The talk will begin at 6 p.m. in the Boothbay Harbor Opera House at 86 Townsend Avenue in Boothbay Harbor. McBeth, a postdoctoral researcher in the Geomicrobiology Research Laboratory at the new Bigelow Ocean Science and Education Campus, will describe her research about the role that bacteria play in the planet’s geochemical cycles, and the use of genetic sequencing technology to examine the role of bacteria in steel corrosion. An important part of her research has been to explore how a new class of microbes – the Zetaproteobacteria - are involved in rusting of steel. The Zetaproteobacteria are marine iron-eating bacteria that are found both at hydrothermal vents in the deep-sea and in near shore and estuarine sediments.
“Corrosion is a very expensive problem globally, and bacteria are often important players in rusting of steel in the ocean,” McBeth said. “We have been working to understand what bacteria are involved and also how they influence marine steel corrosion - both individually and as a community. Though this work is applied and practical in its focus, it is also exciting to us as geomicrobiologists because of the kinds of bacteria that grow on the steel. Many of them are similar to bacteria we find at deep-sea hydrothermal vents; in a sense we are simulating exotic ocean environments right here in coastal Maine!”
McBeth holds a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from the University of Manchester, UK; a Master of Science degree in Geological Sciences from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a B.Sc. in Geological Sciences from the University of British Columbia. Her work at Bigelow Laboratory has been funded by the U. S. Office of Naval Research. She will be continuing her research in a new position at the Canadian Light Source in Canada this September.
The Laboratory’s Café Scientifique gatherings are informal discussions about scientific issues and society, current research, and the latest news from the field. They are free and open to the public, with beer, wine, and sodas available for purchase.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is an independent, non-profit center for global ocean research, ocean science education, and technology transfer. A recognized leader in Maine's emerging innovation economy, the Laboratory’s research ranges from microbial oceanography to the large-scale biogeochemical processes that drive ocean ecosystems and global environmental conditions. ####
Photo: Dr. Joyce McBeth. Photo by Jen Fownes.