Professional Education

  • Master of Science, University of Michigan Ann Arbor (2017)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Michigan Ann Arbor (2017)

All Publications

  • Evidence for methanobactin "Theft" and novel chalkophore production in methanotrophs: impact on methanotrophic-mediated methylmercury degradation. The ISME journal Kang-Yun, C. S., Liang, X., Dershwitz, P., Gu, W., Schepers, A., Flatley, A., Lichtmannegger, J., Zischka, H., Zhang, L., Lu, X., Gu, B., Ledesma, J. C., Pelger, D. J., DiSpirito, A. A., Semrau, J. D. 2021


    Aerobic methanotrophy is strongly controlled by copper, and methanotrophs are known to use different mechanisms for copper uptake. Some methanotrophs secrete a modified polypeptide-methanobactin-while others utilize a surface-bound protein (MopE) and a secreted form of it (MopE*) for copper collection. As different methanotrophs have different means of sequestering copper, competition for copper significantly impacts methanotrophic activity. Herein, we show that Methylomicrobium album BG8, Methylocystis sp. strain Rockwell, and Methylococcus capsulatus Bath, all lacking genes for methanobactin biosynthesis, are not limited for copper by multiple forms of methanobactin. Interestingly, Mm. album BG8 and Methylocystis sp. strain Rockwell were found to have genes similar to mbnT that encodes for a TonB-dependent transporter required for methanobactin uptake. Data indicate that these methanotrophs "steal" methanobactin and such "theft" enhances the ability of these strains to degrade methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin. Further, when mbnT was deleted in Mm. album BG8, methylmercury degradation in the presence of methanobactin was indistinguishable from when MB was not added. Mc. capsulatus Bath lacks anything similar to mbnT and was unable to degrade methylmercury either in the presence or absence of methanobactin. Rather, Mc. capsulatus Bath appears to rely on MopE/MopE* for copper collection. Finally, not only does Mm. album BG8 steal methanobactin, it synthesizes a novel chalkophore, suggesting that some methanotrophs utilize both competition and cheating strategies for copper collection. Through a better understanding of these strategies, methanotrophic communities may be more effectively manipulated to reduce methane emissions and also enhance mercury detoxification in situ.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41396-021-01062-1

    View details for PubMedID 34290379

  • Towards a Biomanufactory on Mars FRONTIERS IN ASTRONOMY AND SPACE SCIENCES Berliner, A. J., Hilzinger, J. M., Abel, A. J., McNulty, M. J., Makrygiorgos, G., Averesch, N. H., Sen Gupta, S., Benvenuti, A., Caddell, D. F., Cestellos-Blanco, S., Doloman, A., Friedline, S., Ho, D., Gu, W., Hill, A., Kusuma, P., Lipsky, I., Mirkovic, M., Meraz, J., Pane, V., Sander, K. B., Shi, F., Skerker, J. M., Styer, A., Valgardson, K., Wetmore, K., Woo, S., Xiong, Y., Yates, K., Zhang, C., Zhen, S., Bugbee, B., Clark, D. S., Coleman-Derr, D., Mesbah, A., Nandi, S., Waymouth, R. M., Yang, P., Criddle, C. S., McDonald, K. A., Seefeldt, L. C., Menezes, A. A., Arkin, A. P. 2021; 8
  • In situ electrochemical H-2 production for efficient and stable power-to-gas electromethanogenesis (vol 22, pg 6194, 2020) GREEN CHEMISTRY Kracke, F., Deutzmann, J. S., Gu, W., Spormann, A. M. 2021

    View details for DOI 10.1039/d1gc90069b

    View details for Web of Science ID 000670547200001

  • An alternative resource allocation strategy in the chemolithoautotrophic archaeon Methanococcus maripaludis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Muller, A. L., Gu, W., Patsalo, V., Deutzmann, J. S., Williamson, J. R., Spormann, A. M. 2021; 118 (16)


    Most microorganisms in nature spend the majority of time in a state of slow or zero growth and slow metabolism under limited energy or nutrient flux rather than growing at maximum rates. Yet, most of our knowledge has been derived from studies on fast-growing bacteria. Here, we systematically characterized the physiology of the methanogenic archaeon Methanococcus maripaludis during slow growth. M. maripaludis was grown in continuous culture under energy (formate)-limiting conditions at different dilution rates ranging from 0.09 to 0.002 h-1, the latter corresponding to 1% of its maximum growth rate under laboratory conditions (0.23 h-1). While the specific rate of methanogenesis correlated with growth rate as expected, the fraction of cellular energy used for maintenance increased and the maintenance energy per biomass decreased at slower growth. Notably, proteome allocation between catabolic and anabolic pathways was invariant with growth rate. Unexpectedly, cells maintained their maximum methanogenesis capacity over a wide range of growth rates, except for the lowest rates tested. Cell size, cellular DNA, RNA, and protein content as well as ribosome numbers also were largely invariant with growth rate. A reduced protein synthesis rate during slow growth was achieved by a reduction in ribosome activity rather than via the number of cellular ribosomes. Our data revealed a resource allocation strategy of a methanogenic archaeon during energy limitation that is fundamentally different from commonly studied versatile chemoheterotrophic bacteria such as E. coli.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2025854118

    View details for PubMedID 33879571

  • Enhancement of Nitrous Oxide Emissions in Soil Microbial Consortia via Copper Competition between Proteobacterial Methanotrophs and Denitrifiers APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY Chang, J., Kim, D. D., Semrau, J. D., Lee, J., Heo, H., Gu, W., Yoon, S. 2021; 87 (5)


    Unique means of copper scavenging have been identified in proteobacterial methanotrophs, particularly the use of methanobactin, a novel ribosomally synthesized post-translationally modified polypeptide that binds copper with very high affinity. The possibility that copper sequestration strategies of methanotrophs may interfere with copper uptake of denitrifiers in situ and thereby enhance N2O emissions was examined using a suite of laboratory experiments performed with rice paddy microbial consortia. Addition of purified methanobactin from Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b to denitrifying rice paddy soil microbial consortia resulted in substantially increased N2O production, with more pronounced responses observed for soils with lower copper content. The N2O emission-enhancing effect of the soil's native mbnA-expressing Methylocystaceae methanotrophs on the native denitrifiers was then experimentally verified with a Methylocystaceae-dominant chemostat culture prepared from a rice paddy microbial consortium as the inoculum. Lastly, with microcosms amended with varying cell numbers of methanobactin-producing Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b before CH4 enrichment, microbiomes with different ratios of methanobactin-producing Methylocystaceae to gammaproteobacterial methanotrophs incapable of methanobactin production were simulated. Significant enhancement of N2O production from denitrification was evident in both Methylocystaceae-dominant and Methylococcaceae-dominant enrichments, albeit to a greater extent in the former, signifying the comparative potency of methanobactin-mediated copper sequestration while implying the presence of alternative copper abstraction mechanisms for Methylococcaceae These observations support that copper-mediated methanotrophic enhancement of N2O production from denitrification is plausible where methanotrophs and denitrifiers cohabit.IMPORTANCE Proteobacterial methanotrophs, groups of microorganisms that utilize methane as source of energy and carbon, have been known to utilize unique mechanisms to scavenge copper, namely utilization of methanobactin, a polypeptide that binds copper with high affinity and specificity. Previously the possibility that copper sequestration by methanotrophs may lead to alteration of cuproenzyme-mediated reactions in denitrifiers and consequently increase emission of potent greenhouse gas N2O has been suggested in axenic and co-culture experiments. Here, a suite of experiments with rice paddy soil slurry cultures with complex microbial compositions were performed to corroborate that such copper-mediated interplay may actually take place in environments co-habited by diverse methanotrophs and denitrifiers. As spatial and temporal heterogeneity allow for spatial coexistence of methanotrophy (aerobic) and denitrification (anaerobic) in soils, the results from this study suggest that this previously unidentified mechanism of N2O production may account for significant proportion of N2O efflux from agricultural soils.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/AEM.02301-20

    View details for Web of Science ID 000618054600013

    View details for PubMedID 33355098

  • In situelectrochemical H(2)production for efficient and stable power-to-gas electromethanogenesis GREEN CHEMISTRY Kracke, F., Deutzmann, J. S., Gu, W., Spormann, A. M. 2020; 22 (18): 6194–6203

    View details for DOI 10.1039/d0gc01894e

    View details for Web of Science ID 000571356300028

  • Enhanced Electrosynthetic Hydrogen Evolution by Hydrogenases Embedded in a Redox-Active Hydrogel. Chemistry (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany) Ruth, J. C., Milton, R. D., Gu, W. n., Spormann, A. M. 2020


    Molecular hydrogen is a major high-energy carrier for future energy technologies, if produced from renewable electrical energy. Hydrogenase enzymes offer a pathway for bioelectrochemically producing hydrogen that is advantageous over traditional platforms for hydrogen production because of low overpotentials and ambient operating temperature and pressure. However, electron delivery from the electrode surface to the enzyme's active site is often rate-limiting. Here, we show three different hydrogenases from Clostridium pasteurianum and Methanococcus maripaludis , when immobilized at a cathode in a cobaltocene-functionalized polyallylamine (Cc-PAA) redox polymer, mediate rapid and efficient hydrogen evolution. We further show that Cc-PAA-mediated hydrogenases can operate at high faradaic efficiency (80-100%) and low overpotential (-0.578 to -0.593 V vs. SHE). Specific activities of these hydrogenases in the electrosynthetic Cc-PAA assay were comparable to their respective activities in traditional methyl viologen assays, indicating that Cc-PAA mediates electron transfer at high rates, to most of the embedded enzymes.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/chem.202000750

    View details for PubMedID 32074397