How is genomics changing the world? Watch the video to find out.



Rock-Eaters and Other Microscopic Mine Workers

Rock-Eaters and Other Microscopic Mine Workers

You might not immediately think of DNA when you think of the rocks and machines of the mining world. But Dr Lesley Warren, professor of Aqueous and Microbial Geochemistry at McMaster University, says countless microscopic organisms influence a range of processes like extraction and remediation within the sector. She uses genomics technologies to understand what makes these microbial communities tick, and how to optimize their role in the mining process.

Dr Warren presented at the Mining, Exploration and Petroleum New Brunswick conference November 3rd in Fredericton as part of Genome Atlantic’s efforts to help regional industries gain access to genomics-based innovations.

She explained that any wet environment is a bioreactor containing diverse microorganism communities that interact with – and shape – their environment. Mine system components, from processing to waste residue management to reclamation, are home to highly adapted microbial communities that can positively or negatively influence any aspect of the operation through their metabolic cycling of iron, sulfur, carbon and metal constituents.

Warren says that the majority of these bacteria and their impacts remain unknown, which creates an enormous opportunity for the mining and resource sectors to enhance process efficiencies, more effectively monitor and manage waste streams, and develop biologically integrated closure plans – all key to meeting and exceeding sustainability targets. 

Hear Dr Warren explain these topics in this CBC radio interview.

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