Heterologous Natural Product Biosynthesis for Environmental and Sustainability Applications: Metal Removal and Recovery

The Pfeifer Research Group

The Pfeifer research group is interested in generating a compound with broad metal binding capability to explore applications in removal and recapture from environmental or industrial water streams. 


In this project, we take advantage of the natural metal binding ability of a particular type of natural product family known as siderophores.  We have redirected this binding ability towards an environmental objective: water treatment.  Namely, we are exploring ways to remove environmentally-damaging compounds from water streams and/or to recover metals of economic value.  

Resulting Publications

  • M.K. Ahmadi, S. Fawaz, C.H. Jones, G. Zhang, B.A. Pfeifer. ‘Total Biosynthesis and Diverse Applications for the Nonribosomal Peptide-Polyketide Siderophore Yersiniabactin’ Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81(16):5290-8 (2015)
  • M.K. Ahmadi, S. Fawaz, L. Fang, Z. Yu, B.A. Pfeifer. ‘Molecular Variation of the Nonribosomal Peptide-Polyketide Siderophore Yersiniabactin through Biosynthetic and Metabolic Engineering’ Biotechnology & Bioengineering 113(5):1067-74 (2016)
  • M.K. Ahmadi, M. Ghafari, J.D. Atkinson, B.A. Pfeifer. ‘A Copper Removal Process for Water based upon Biosynthesis of Yersiniabactin, a Metal-binding Natural Product’ Chemical Engineering Journal 306:772–76 (2016)
  • N.J. Moscatello, R. Qi, M.K. Ahmadi, B.A. Pfeifer. ‘Increased Production of Yersiniabactin and an Anthranilate Analog through Media Optimization’ 2017 May 25. doi: 10.1002/btpr.2496
  • N.J. Moscatello and B.A. Pfeifer. ‘Yersiniabactin Metal Binding Characterization and Removal of Nickel from Industrial Wastewater’ in press.

Students on This Projects

  • Nicholas Moscatello (PhD)
  • Ruiquan Qi (PhD)
  • Guojian Zhang (Postdoctoral Associate)
  • Girish Swayambhu (PhD)