Coates Lab Research

PcrA Cartoon

The research focus of the Coates Lab is environmental microbiology, encompassing the fields of bioremediation, alternative energy production, and biogeochemistry.

Please click on the links below to read further about specific research projects

Genetics of Perchlorate Reduction

Perchlorate Reduction graphic
The phylogenetically disparate perchlorate-reducing bacteria all share a genomic island that contains the genes responsible for perchlorate reduction.

Dissimilatory Iodate Reduction

Across the world's oceans, nearly 95% of iodine persists as iodate (IO3-) and must be reduced to iodide (I-) to become bioavailable. We have identified several new bacteria that possess a dedicated pathway for reducing IO3- to I- and generating energy for growth in the process by using a protein complex called an iodate reductase (Idr). We aim to gain a mechanistic understanding of the processes involved in this metabolism, how iodate respiration impacts the global Iodine cycle, and how this changes our foundational understanding of microbial metabolisms and electrochemistry. To achieve this, we combine approaches from microbial physiology, genetics, genomics, enzymology, and microbial ecology.

Applied Anaerobic Nitrate-dependent Fe(II) Oxidation

Microbial processes that produce solid-phase minerals could be judiciously applied to modify rock porosity with subsequent alteration and improvement of floodwater sweep in petroleum reservoirs.

Perchlorate Reduction in Marine Environments

Focusing on expanding both the phylogenetic and the physiological diversity of DPRB. Arcobacter sp. CAB was isolated from marine sediment and is currently the only DPRB in the Epsilonproteobacteria.

Characterization of Protein Chemistry, Perchlorate Reduction

crystal structure of perchlorate reductase enzyme
The predicted crystal structure of the α-subunit of perchlorate reductase (PcrA) based upon the published crystal structures nitrate reductase (NarG) and ethylbenzene dehydrogenase (EbdA), both of which have 34% identity to PcrA.

Investigation of Microbial Sulfate Reduction

souring control in model sedimentary systems
We are investigating the causes of H2S generation during oil recovery processes and identifying novel strategies to prevent this, including running flow through column studies on a bay water/sediment system to investigate the effects of various treatments on the geochemistry and the microbial community in a sulfidogenic system.

Rocket Propellants

Over the last two decades a significant part of the Coates Lab research focus has been on the bioremediation and attenuation of a range of toxic legacy compounds from the cold war and ongoing military activities including radioactive metals and rocket propellants.


Ship Rusting in the Water
The Coates Lab also works on biotransformation of toxic and radioactive metals.

Improving the sustainability of fossil fuel

Fossil Fuel Dependency
Gasoline Bioremediation: While global modern society has an absolute need for energy and military protection, these activities bear a high environmental price.

Inhibiting Bio-corrosion

2010 San Bruno Pipeline Explosion
More recently, our work related to fossil energy production has focused on ameliorating the biogenesis of hydrogen sulfide during crude oil recovery.