January 15, 2010
• Click here to download the cover of the book.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) biology Professor Asim K. Bej, Ph.D., has co-edited a new book believed to be a first in the field of polar microbiology that examines the bio-remediation abilities of microorganisms in polar regions.
The book, Polar Microbiology: The Ecology, Biodiversity and Bioremediation Potential of Microorganisms in Extremely Cold Environments, is a literature review that contains 18 scholarly chapters from leading polar microbiology experts.
Bej, who was primary editor, Jackie Aislabie of New Zealand's Landcare Research and Ronald M. Atlas of the University of Louisville hand-selected and edited the articles to create a single publication that brings together the current state of scientific knowledge on the microbial communities in polar regions.
"This resource is the ideal starting point for the future research that must be done if we are to effectively reduce man's eco-footprint on our polar regions," Bej said.
The book's focus is polar bio-remediation, or the use of microorganisms to mineralize and degrade environmental contaminants, specifically petroleum hydrocarbons that threaten land masses and bodies of water in extremely cold environments.
"Our book discusses the taxonomy, physiology, biochemistry, gene-transfer, adaptation and bio-remediation potential of extremophile microorganisms, including the Archaea, that thrive in soil, lakes and coastal waters in extremely cold temperatures. It lays a foundation for future investigations into the potential to promote the biodegradation of pollutants in the Arctic and Antarctic," Bej said.
"Future research in the field of polar bioremediation is so crucial because oil exploration and other expeditions are increasing the level of pollution in Polar ecosystems annually," he said. "Thankfully, many organisms indigenous to these regions have the natural ability to degrade pollutants, and our book will help future research harness that potential to revive our vulnerable polar ecosystems."
About the UAB Department of Biology
The UAB Department of Biology is a dynamic academic partnership that provides a broad-based graduate and undergraduate curriculum. Most members of the graduate faculty have research specialties in comparative biochemistry, physiology and eco-physiology of aquatic organisms. A second, important department research focus is environmental microbiology.