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Front Microbiol. 2012 Jun 5;3:203. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00203. eCollection 2012.

Engineering microbial consortia to enhance biomining and bioremediation.

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Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation, Division of Molecular Biosciences, Imperial College London, London, UK.


In natural environments microorganisms commonly exist as communities of multiple species that are capable of performing more varied and complicated tasks than clonal populations. Synthetic biologists have engineered clonal populations with characteristics such as differentiation, memory, and pattern formation, which are usually associated with more complex multicellular organisms. The prospect of designing microbial communities has alluring possibilities for environmental, biomedical, and energy applications, and is likely to reveal insight into how natural microbial consortia function. Cell signaling and communication pathways between different species are likely to be key processes for designing novel functions in synthetic and natural consortia. Recent efforts to engineer synthetic microbial interactions will be reviewed here, with particular emphasis given to research with significance for industrial applications in the field of biomining and bioremediation of acid mine drainage.


acid mine drainage; bioleaching; biomining; bioremediation; microbial consortia; synthetic biology; synthetic microbial consortia

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