Matthew Lee, Sabrina Beckmann and Michael Manefield*


School of Chemical Engineering
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of NSW
Sydney, NSW, Australia


Microorganisms are the original and to this day most abundant organisms on Earth. They are our ancient ancestors and are foundational for our ecosystem services (biogeochemical cycles) and essential biotechnologies (wastewater treatment, agriculture, food production). They are also self replicating catalysts. This seminar presents an introduction to research ongoing in my research team on bioremediation and biogas production. Our bioremediation research focusses on the biological degradation of organohalides and hydrocarbons predominantly in subsurface environments (groundwater)1. Our biogas research focusses on stimulation of microbial activity in coal seams and anaerobic digesters2. Beyond energy and water, these microbial technologies represent a low energy, low cost toolbox for a new engineering discipline, namely ecosystem engineering, with applications in mineral resources (biomining), rehabilitation of degraded environments, terraforming of uninhabitable environments (deserts and extra-terrestrial), agriculture, food production and food security.


 Lee, M et al, Environmental Microbiology 2012, 14, 883-894. Complete chloroform dechlorination by organochlorine respiration and fermentation.

2 Beckmann, S et al, Energy and Environmental Science  2016, 9, 644-655. Novel phenazine crystals enable direct electron transfer to methanogens in anaerobic digestion by redox potential modulation. Energy and Environmental Science.

Biographic Details

Name: Michael Manefield

Title: Associate Professor

UNSW, Australia:

Phone: +61405477066 E-mail:

Research interests: Microbiology, quorum sensing, stable isotope probing, bioremediation, biogas production, wastewater treatment.



AEB 301