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Exploring microbial electrosynthesis at Washington University in St. Louis

Dr Arpita Bose discusses research into bioelectrochemical systems and microbial electrosynthesis at the Department of Biology, Washington University

Arpita Bose, PhD started her laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) in 2015 after receiving post-doctoral training at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At Harvard University, she began her work with bioelectrochemical systems that she continued in her own laboratory at WUSTL. WUSTL has a unique interdisciplinary environment that supports research on sustainability. Over the past 6 years, the Bose Laboratory has taken the observation that photosynthetic microbes can grow and consume electricity and expanded it both at the basic science as well as the applied level. Building on collaborations both within WUSTL and beyond, in the next phase of her laboratory’s growth, Prof. Bose wants to take her laboratory-based discoveries and inventions to the global arena. Nature’s role in finding solutions to the world’s most pressing problem cannot be underestimated. Natural solutions to climate-change that leverage cutting-edge tools might hold the key to a sustainable future. Microbial electrosynthesis, where microbes are used to produce value-added biomolecules from carbon dioxide represents such a natural solution using the tools and tricks of modern technology. This approach allows us to link electricity to the carbon economies of the world. They are taking a multi-pronged approach to microbial electrosynthesis using microbiology, synthetic biology, multi-omics and combining this with cutting-edge engineering and materials science to enhance this process, thus head toward commercialization. Beyond this, the Bose Laboratory is taking a broad and open-minded approach to finding microbe-based solutions beyond microbial electrosynthesis at WUSTL. They are looking at how the interactions between iron-utilizing microbes and nature can account for carbon sequestration at a global scale. Overall, the Bose laboratory’s research aims to find tangible solutions to problems such as climate change that affects people globally.

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