Dr. Lanoil talks about his research with ice cores and the Canadian Ice Core Archive
My interests fall into the broad area of microbial ecology and microbiology of extreme environments. The principle systems I study include:
1. Microbiology of icy arctic environments
The vast majority of Earth’s biosphere exists in permanently cold environments, including polar regions (14% of surface area) and deep ocean (90% by volume). Microorganisms are often the sole or dominant (both numerically and in terms of biomass) inhabitants of widespread cold environments such as subglacial systems, high arctic tundra soils, ice cores, and sub-ice marine environments. These environments are particularly susceptible to climate change as they are often poised between frozen and unfrozen states. Previous work in our lab has focused on glacial, proglacial, and subglacial microbiology; Arctic soils; and sea ice microbiology. Current projects in the laboratory in this area include:
a. Succession processes in proglacial soils in southern Yukon
b. Response of sea ice microbial communities to climate change, Canadian High Arctic
c. Microbial responses to rapid climate change at the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary by study of permafrost archives, Klondike Region, Yukon
2. Microbiology of reclamation of energy extraction impacted systems (“reclamation genomics”)
This is a relatively new area of research for my laboratory. Our focus is on using the high resilience and rapid adaptation of microbial communities to disturbance to help determine optimal reclamation pathways for systems impacted by energy extraction (conventional and non-conventional oil and gas extraction, including oil sands and “fracking”). We call this approach “reclamation genomics” and are looking for interested partners and students to pursue this research. Our current project involves examining the impact of different ratios of peat and subsoil in a peat-mineral mix reclamation substrate on microbial community structure and function.
The methods that we use in my laboratory are both traditional microbiology and (meta)genomics based, although the emphasis is on non-culture based methods. Some of the main approaches we use include:
A. 16S rRNA gene based diversity analyses (via high-throughput sequencing)
C. Stable isotope probing
Dr. Lanoil is a participant in the Land Reclamation Graduate School (LRIGS) program sponsored by NSERC CREATE.
A broad range of topics in microbial ecology are covered including aquatic and terrestrial habitats, the influence of health and disease on the human microbiome, symbiosis and pathogenesis in environmental systems, and the application of ecological theory to microbial populations and communities. Prerequisite: MICRB 265. Pre- or corequisite: BIOL 208, or consent of instructor.
This advanced microbiology course will cover selected topics of life in extreme environments, with particular emphasis on diversity, evolutionary and physiological adaptations, methodology for studying extreme environments, the effective limits of life, implications for biogeochemical cycling, and astrobiology. Examples of adaptation to specific environments will be the focus of student projects. Oral presentations required. Prerequisites: BIOL 322 or any 300 level MICRB course or consent of instructor. Note: MICRB 423 and 523 cannot both be taken for credit.
This advanced microbiology course will cover selected topics of life in extreme environments, with particular emphasis on diversity, evolutionary and physiological adaptations, methodology for studying extreme environments, the effective limits of life, implications for biogeochemical cycling, and astrobiology. Examples of adaptation to specific environments will be the focus of student projects. Oral presentations required. Lectures are the same as for MICRB 423, but with an additional assignment and evaluation appropriate to graduate studies. Prerequisites: consent of instructor. MICRB 423 and 523 cannot both be taken for credit.