Dr. Tyler Arbour

Telephone number: 
+32 9/264 59 76
Position: 
Postdoctoral staff
Biography: 

After obtaining my BSc in Chemistry from Montana State University in 2008, I spent a year doing research/studying abroad in Germany on a DAAD fellowship. There I worked with Prof. Jörg Enderlein and his group at The University of Göttingen on a project using single-molecule spectroscopy to measure fluid flow in microfluidic channels with high accuracy and spatial resolution. I was hooked on research, and for graduate school followed a gut feeling to combine my love of (bio)chemistry with that of the great outdoors by transitioning into geoscience.

I did my doctoral work in Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley, supervised by Prof. Jill Banfield and Dr. Benjamin Gilbert. There I studied microbial communities that carry out mineral redox transformations in earth's subsurface, and thereby drive important geochemical cycles. In this research, I used bio-electrochemical systems coupled with genome-resolved metagenomics to enrich for and characterize "electroactive" microbial communities.

Research interests
  • Microbe-mineral interactions, biogeochemistry, microbial ecology
  • Extracellular electron transfer
  • Microbial electrosynthesis, bio-electochemical systems
Current research project

In my research here at UGent / CMET I will focus on microbial electrosynthesis of valuable carbon compounds starting from CO2. This technology will help us to transition away from fossil fuel sources of energy and globally relevant carbon compounds, as well as decrease the amount of CO2 emitted directly into the atmosphere by industrial processes. The specific aims of my project are to enrich for "halophilic" (salt-loving) microbes capable of homoacetogenesis–the production of acetate from hydrogen and carbon dioxide. High-salinity environments are relatively unexplored in the context of homoacetogenesis, and discovering microbes able to withstand high salt conditions in bio-electrochemical systems will open new areas of application. My collaborators and I will sample multiple anaerobic saline environments in search of these organisms, and use traditional microbiological culturing methods as well as bio-electrochemical systems to select for (and possibly isolate) promising homoacetogens.