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Canadian Society of Microbiologists Untitled 1

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MEMBERSHIP  ::  Meet the Microbiologist

Meet the Microbiologist

A marine denitrifying bioprocess as a model to study the microbiology a complex biofilm.

Bioremediation processes refer to biological tools that degrade, transform and/or eliminate molecules that contaminate air, water or soil, and microorganisms are the cornerstone of every of these processes. Engineers still see the "inside" of bioremediation processes as a black "unknown" box. It is therefore imperative to understand how microorganisms work in this box to develop and optimize efficient bioremediation processes. Naturally-occurring, multispecies microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, archaea, fungi, protozoa) most often compose the microbial population of bioremediation processes. They have adapted to the bioprocess environment to achieve the degradation or the transformation of pollutants. These microorganisms can be arranged as flocks, granules, suspended biomass or biofilm attached to a substratum. The microbial community completing pollutant degradation in a specific milieu (e.g. water vs. soil) relies on the appropriate species diversity but also on its spatial organization (e.g. biofilm). The efficiency of bioremediation processes largely depends on enzymatic properties of microorganisms. However, the cascade of pollutant transformations is often accomplished by multiple species, rather than a single organism.The scientific community is just starting to understand how naturally-occurring multispecies microorganisms establish themselves in a bioprocess, how they interact to develop a hierarchical organization, and how they exchange material or communicate between them. Most studies addressing biofilm development are based on single or mixed of 2-3 species biofilms. Although these studies provide a good comprehensive picture of microbial behavior, it is often difficult to transpose these data to "real world" with numerous species interacting with each other and where predation occurs (e.g. protozoa grazing). Although understanding complex biofilms is very challenging, as each species can influence the biofilm dynamics, it is essential to identify key factors shaping such microorganism organization to harness the complete bioremediation power of microorganisms.

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Richard Villemur

To tackle this challenge, I have developed over the years, state-of-the-art microbiology, molecular biology and omics tools to provide sophisticated and relevant data on multispecies bioprocesses not only in aerobic but also anaerobic conditions. I use a marine denitrification bioprocess (reduction of nitrate to N2) as a prototypic model of a multispecies bioremediating process. My research program aims to decipher the mechanisms whereby microorganisms interact within naturally-occurring multispecies biofilm of bioremediation processes, and consequently achieve optimal degrading activities in bioprocesses.

My team moved in 2015 with 10 other colleagues to new laboratory facilities in the INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier at Ville de Laval (just North of Montreal) that comprised 2000-m2 floor. We shared our laboratory with Philippe Constant, geomicrobiologist and CSM member. The laboratory is equipped with PCR and qPCR apparatus, electrophoresis room, ionic chromatograph, gas chromatography, anaerobic glove box. We have a remarkable environment for people and students interested in microbiology as Etienne Yergeau, Salim Timo Islam, Frederic Veyrier and Eric Déziel are among other microbiologists located in the same floor, and sharing facilities, thoughts and projects.

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Contact Information
INRS - Institut Armand-Frappier
531, boul. des Prairies
Laval, QC H7V 1B7
(450) 687-5010 x.4611
(450) 686-5501

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CSM-SCM Secretariat
17 Dossetter Way
Ottawa, ON K1G 4S3

Tel: (613) 421-7229

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