The Majumder Lab employs ‘omics-guided biochemistry to study the mechanisms and consequences of microbial inorganic metabolisms on environmental and human health. We achieve this by investigating 1) Organismal response to perturbations in its environment, 2) Gene and metabolite function in situ, 3) Environmental applications of novel microbial chemistries.

Recent work of Dr. Majumder’s was highlighted in a Nature technology news feature

Theme 1: Plastics
We recognize that one of the primary limitations of the big data era to understand complex biological systems is the reliance on incomplete genome annotations. Current genome annotations do not account for the multiplicity of functions one gene may perform nor do they include atypical metabolic pathways. We use genomics, enzymology and metabolomics-based technologies to determine the roles for specific genes, enzymes and metabolites in different conditions such as (1) bioplastic-precursor synthesis from waste carbon sources, (2) degradation of recalcitrant plastics in the environment, and (3) the ecology of the interactions between microplastics and Harmful Algal Blooms.

Theme 2: Metals
As more and more organisms are sequenced and cultured, we are learning about an increasing range of microbial metabolisms and chemistries, especially from anaerobic bacteria. After determining these novel chemical capabilities, we can apply this knowledge and these microbes for greener solutions. Initial efforts in this theme are focused on the electron transfer and bioinorganic synthetic capabilities of anaerobes towards (1) enhanced wastewater treatment and (2) electricity production in photobioelectrochemical calls.

Theme 3: Non-metal (Sulfur, Nitrogen, Phosphorus) Metabolites
One of the primary lessons the scientific community learned from the human genome and earth microbiome projects is that genome information alone cannot sufficiently explain observed phenotypes and that environmental factors are a significant, if not the main driving factor affecting phenotype presentation. Using a systems-level combination of genomics, metabolomics and biochemistry, we aim to elucidate the mechanisms of how environmental factors cause changes to an organism’s metabolism and result in the observed phenotype. Potential projects focused on this theme are (1) investigating the contributions of metabolism to prognosis in tick-borne diseases like Lyme’s, and (2) the effect of metal contamination on sulfur metabolism of the gut microbiome.

Connections across themes:
We anticipate cross-talk between the themes as genetic tools, mass spectrometry methods, and data analysis pipelines developed in one theme will be applicable in others.

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