About this Research Topic
Microorganisms play essential roles in various element cycles on earth through either their specialized metabolic capabilities or their interactions with other bacteria or their environment. These microbial activities have been harnessed by bioprocesses and biotechnologies in environmental engineering to develop various methods in remediating environmental contaminants, producing energy and valuable products, and protecting public health and environmental quality. The performance outcomes of engineering bioprocesses are often determined by the interplay between engineering conditions and specific metabolism of individual microorganisms or the collective interactions among microbial populations within them. Therefore, it is crucial to elucidate the key microbial machinery and dynamics governing the efficiency and robustness of bioprocesses.
The current advancement in systems biology tools, including (meta)genomics, (meta)transcriptomics, and mass-spectrometry-based metabolomics enables the investigation of molecular details on different-level complexity involved in microbial bioprocesses. Additionally, because different types of (meta)omics analyses can complement and mutually support each other, integrated (meta)omics datasets can yield patterns of the co-occurrence and correlation from different functions of individual microorganisms or microbial groups within communities. These analyses not only expand the fundamental understanding of microbial metabolism and interactions but also allow the investigation of their impacts on engineering outcomes.
Other techniques, such as single-cell sequencing, CRISPR-Cas-based tools, and microbial imaging mass spectrometry also offer the novel means to untangle the functions and interactions of bacteria in complex microbial communities which previously had no way to be analyzed. The application of these techniques in environmental engineering bioprocesses is still limited but will be useful for dissecting the crucial functions and complex metabolic exchanges involved and needed to improve the design and engineering of bioprocesses.
The goal of this special Research Topic is to provide a platform to capture the current progress in elucidating the mechanistic understanding of metabolic pathways, the role of small molecules and gene functions, and interplay and interdependence of community members and their impacts on engineering performance. These studies can be applied to mixed microbial communities, constructed consortia, or isolates. The engineering applications can include water and wastewater treatment, bioremediation, bioenergy and bioproducts, or other bioprocesses in engineered environments. We welcome research articles in but not limited to the following sub-topics:
-Understanding the metabolic capabilities of microorganisms involved in engineering processes.
-Revealing the competitive or cooperative interactions occurring in engineering processes.
-Identifying the metabolic pathways that are crucial to the fitness of microorganisms in engineering systems for particular environmental application.
-Characterizing the specific metabolites and small molecules that are important to the bioprocesses.
-Identifying the specific enzymes or cellular functions that enhance the performance of bioprocesses.
-Review articles that summarize the new applications of microbial metabolisms in bioremediation and water/wastewater treatment as well as novel tools and analysis pipelines in understanding microbial metabolism and interactions.
Keywords: Microbial metabolism and interactions, environmental Biotechnology, bioenergy and bioproducts, Bioremediation, microbial bioprocesses
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