Anaerobic environments are places that lack oxygen, such as the guts of most creatures. We also create anaerobic environments when we ferment foods, make alcohol or produce chemicals and fuel. These environments are filled with millions of microbes. We tend to think of microbes as invisible organisms that can cause harm (such as bacteria). But researchers like Dr. Elizabeth Edwards, Canada Research Chair in Anaerobic Biotechnology, are studying them for their ability to clean up contaminants (bioremediation) or convert waste materials into renewable energy.
Edwards and her research team are working to understand how interactions between microbes enable greater activity of the whole community compared to any individual microbe. Ultimately, their research will lead to better bioremediation practices and sustainable commercial processes to treat municipal and industrial organic wastes.