Microbial engines of global change

Right now, redox cycling of the elements is happening on a genuinely global scale. These cycles are driven by the intricate electron-transfer chemistry of microbial organisms. Whether engaging in the molecular construction projects of the carbon, nitrogen or sulfur cycles or simply moving electrons to make a bioenergetic living, these smallest of creatures harness metals as cofactors to cycle and recycle the environment around us continuously.

Our symposia at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting – now called Discover BMB – in Seattle in March will cover several topics relating to the biochemistry and microbiology of elemental cycling, where complex metalloenzymes often are used to achieve startling transformations. Recently elucidated mechanisms, insight into how metallocofactors are harnessed to power the redox reactions of life around us, and surprising insights into the connections between metals, microbes and electrons all will be discussed.

With concerns for sustainability and a new energy economy, the microscopic world of biological chemistry has much to teach us.

Keywords: Metalloenzymes, enzyme mechanisms, microbiology, biochemistry, biogeochemistry.

Who should attend: All who are fascinated by how microorganisms shape the world around us and how the environment, in turn, shapes microbial biochemistry.

Theme song: “Electric Boogie (The Electric Slide)” by Marcia Griffiths.

This session is powered by electrons, and so are you.


The enzymology of the carbon cycle
Jennifer Dubois (chair), Montana State University
Stephen Ragsdale, University of Michigan
Sean Elliott, Boston University
Cecilia Gomez Martinez, University of California, Berkeley
Kylie Allen, Virginia Tech

Frontiers of the nitrogen cycle
Eric Hegg (chair), Michigan State University
Yilin Hu, University of California, Irvine
Lisa Stein, University of Alberta
Akif Tezcan, University of California, San Diego

Metals, microbes and minerals
Sean Elliott (chair), Boston University
Eric Boyd, Montana State University
Jennifer Dubois, Montana State University
Jeff Gralnick, University of Minnesota
Christine Morrison, Colorado School of Mines