Microbial Viability Within Hydrogel Matrices

Microbial Viability Within Hydrogel Matrices

By: Laura Nutter    Email:  nutt8988@vandals.uidaho.edu

Home Town: Port Angeles, Washington    High School: Port Angeles High School 2017

Major: Microbiology, Molecular Biol & Biotechnology
Department: Biological Sciences
College: College of Science

Trichloroethylene (TCE), a commonly used industrial solvent, is a widespread, persistent, and carcinogenic groundwater pollutant. An effective treatment strategy for TCE contamination is bioremediation using reductively dechlorinating bacteria. However, during bioremediation changing pH levels can harm these degrading microbes. By incorporating the microbes into a polymer matrix, pH is buffered and the microbes are protected. Determination of encapsulated microbe viability assists in optimization of polymer formulations to better protect microbial consortia and improve degradation of contaminants.

My research focuses on using Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus Acidophilus as organisms to model microbial viability in an encapsulated state. This is done by growing the bacteria under variable conditions with various polymer types and several methods of bead formation. By maximizing microbial viability we can limit the production of hazardous intermediary chemicals in the bioremediation process and decrease the number of times that bioremediation is necessary to clean up contaminated sites.

About Laura Nutter

I am currently a senior in the College of Science majoring in Microbiology and Molecular Biology. I work in and with several labs on campus. My work with Dr. Waynant and Dr. Moberly focuses on developing better bioremediation of trichloroethylene in groundwater by improving conditions for the bacteria that break it down. This is done by developing gel beads to protect the bacteria from their environment. My work in Dr. Rowley's lab focuses on encapsulating killer toxin producing yeast in hydrogels for future agricultural or medical applications.


Products Produced:

Type: Title: Date Published/Presented: DOI:
Poster Encapsulation of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei to Determine Cell Viability in a Hydrogel Biobead Matrix July 30, 2020

Additional Project Information:

Year in College Project Started:  Junior

Faculty Advisor:   Kristopher  Waynant

Faculty Advisor Email:   kwaynant@uidaho.edu

Faculty Advisor Website:  

Funding Source:  National Science Foundation, Office of Undergraduate Research

External Link to Project Information:  

Project Location:   Moscow, ID