Boden Lab

Research Laboratory of Dr Rich Boden, University of Plymouth, UK

Official website of the Boden Lab - research group of Dr Rich Boden, University of Plymouth UK. Dr Boden is Lecturer in Environmental Microbiology & Biotechnology and Communications Officer in the School of Biological Sciences. He also lectures students in the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences and the School of Marine Science & Engineering, as well as training students in the Graduate School and early-career research staff. He performs consultancy for a number of different industries, from chemical manufacturers to mineral companies.

The Boden Lab is a team of interdisciplinary bacteriologists, physiologist, biochemists and geochemists working on a range of pure and applied research projects with the overarching themes of microbial sulfur and metal metabolism with particular focus on enzymology and bioenergetics, as well as the more applied areas of biorefinery and biohydrometallurgy. 

Our research consists of both pure and applied bacteriology, biochemistry, geochemistry and physiology. Our work is transdisciplinary in an organic and essential manner and our ethic is to answer questions using the most appropriate method, not to use fashionable methods for the sake of it and our overall aim is to do good science and make a significant difference to our understanding of the world, nothing more, nothing less. 

Pure Bacteriology

Dr Boden's main interests concern the microbial metabolism of reduced inorganic sulfur compounds , both in chemolithoautotrophs  - such as Thiobacillus thioparus, Thermithiobacillus parkeri and Thermithiobacillus tepidarius - and in chemolithoheterotrophs - such as "Thiobacillus trautweinii", Methylophaga thiooxydans and Advenella kashmirensis. Our work centres on physiology with key focus on growth kinetics, enzymology and metabolic mapping. Dr Boden is one of few microbial taxonomists in the United Kingdom and identified and named Methylophaga thiooxydans  and was involved in the discovery and naming of Methylophaga lonarensis , later performing a formal amendment of the genus Methylophaga  in 2012. His taxonomic interests currently centre on the Acidithiobacillia  (Williams & Kelly, 2013), Pseudomonas  spp. and on Achromobacter  spp.

Physiology & Biochemistry of Sulfur-oxidising Bacteria

This project is currently staffed by Mr Lee Hutt (PhD Student, 2012-2015) and Mr Jack Cowling (Research Assistant, 2012-2013) and is funded by the University of Plymouth and the Royal Society. The project looks at key metabolic pathways in model chemolithoautotroph Thermithiobacillus tepidarius  and chemolithoheterotroph "Thiobacillus trautweinii ". Taxonomic studies of both organisms are being undertaken, with interest in obtaining novel Thermithiobacillus  isolates to expand our knowledge of this under-represented genus. Dr John Moody (University of Plymouth) is co-investigator in our biochemical work on the respiratory chain of Thermithiobacillus parkeri , one of our novel isolates.

Storm-Surge Events and Microbial Nitrogen Fixation

The effect of rising sea-levels will include increasing inundation of coastal land with seawater during storm-surges, with detrimental effects on some plant species. We are investigating the effect of such inundations on soil geochemistry and subsequent effect of this on diazotrophic  Bacteria - those which use nitrogen gas as their sole source of nitrogen and which "fix" nitrogen gas into a form usable by plant species - if these organisms are killed, plant health will suffer. This project is currently staffed by Miss Elena Righetti (PhD Student, 2012-2015) and is co-supervised by Dr Mick Hanley and Dr Richard Billington (University of Plymouth). We collaborate with Dr Joanna Wragg and Dr Mark Cave (British Geological Survey) and the Environment Agency.

Microbial Pathogenicity in Euphydryas editha Boisduval and Melitaea cinxia L.

In collaboration with Professor Camelle Parmesan, Dr Mike Singer and Dr Mick Hanley (University of Plymouth) we aim to identify pathogenic organisms that are causing problems in research laboratories holding these species of butterfly. This project was pilotted in part by Miss Jessica Alsopp (Summer Student, 2013) and by Dr Laura Biggs (Senior Technician) and Mrs Emma Mellor (Volunteer Assistant, 2012-2013). 

Applied Bacteriology

Dr Boden's main interests concern the use of microbes in the mining, winning and refinery of metals of strategic significance, such as the rare-earth elements. He is also interested in developing biotechnological solutions to eliminate heavy metals from agricultural soils. These projects include BioORE and MAsC. We have obtained funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, the Seale-Hayne Educational Trust and from international industry.

More information will be added in due course (25-08-2013). 

Background image Woodbine Beach, Toronto, Canada. Copyright © 2008 Benson Kua (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Photograph of Dr Rich Boden, Copyright  © 2013 University of Plymouth. Post-production editing by Dr Jamie Caryl.