Theoretical Modeling of the Interactions Between Gram-negative Bacteria with Mineral Surfaces

Seung Lee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

We are developing a theoretical modeling capability for the study of the interactions of lipopolysaccharides located on the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria with mineral surfaces and how such interactions affect metal uptake and mineral dissolution. This modeling capability is being applied to better understand and predict the molecular processes involved in microbial metal binding, microbial attachment to mineral surfaces, and, eventually, oxidation/reduction reactions (electron transfer) that can occur at these surfaces and are mediated by the bacterial exterior surface. The scale of these interactions ranges from the molecular scale (Å), where individual ions bind to specific functional groups, to membrane interactions with minerals and other surfaces that can take place on the molecular to macroscopic scale (i.e. Å to µm). The ability to predict bacterial attachment and detachment to and from mineral surfaces will also provide information critical for the understanding and modeling of bacterial transport in subsurface systems.

Abstract Author(s): David A. Dixon, Seung E. Lee