Geomicrobiology Laboratory

Sample collecting in Italy looking at the effects of CO2 leakage on pastureland ecosystems
Anaerobic workstation

This is a diverse and active research area, which examines the processes and effects of microbes on contaminant breakdown, transport and containment in a range of geological settings.

Biological processes are being increasingly recognised as an important part of the subsurface environment having major implications on the interpretation of geochemical and hydrogeological information.

Research themes:

  • the influences of microbes and biofilms on mass transport properties through geological media – recent developments include a bioreactor flow apparatus
  • geomicrobiology of radioactive waste disposal, including radionuclide migration, redox control and natural analogues
  • environmental issues and the geological storage of carbon dioxide – extensive research has been undertaken in the UK and overseas into the effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) leakage on ecosystems
  • development of the in-house BGSE code to determine controls on subsurface microbial growth; ongoing research is updating and improving this model
  • microbial effects on mineral dissolution and precipitation
  • groundwater quality, including transport and viability studies in groundwater systems
  • development of fluorescence imaging to assess distribution and enumeration in geological materials
  • the evaluation of microbiological activity on the bioaccessibility of potentially hazardous elements in soils

A fully equipped Containment Level 2 microbiology laboratory is available with the capability of handling geological materials (core materials and groundwaters).

Facilities include:

  • microaerophilic/anaerobic chamber:a variable atmosphere workstation for the study of oxygen sensitive microbes.
  • Microtox analyser: the Microtox systems provide a reliable biological test system for the measurement of toxicity in aquatic and solid phase samples
  • Deltatox analyser: provides portable rapid screening of potentially contaminated waters. It can also be used for total viable biomass quantification using adenosine triphosphate (ATP) analysis
  • refrigerated and programmable incubators for the cultivation and isolation of bacteria
  • epifluorescence microscopy for the assessment of microbial numbers


Please contact Simon Gregory for further information