The Center for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB) is a multidisciplinary research center that integrates life sciences with engineering and the physical sciences for advanced environmental research, training, and technology development. CEB fosters a multidisciplinary approach for training the next generation of environmental scientists and solving environmental problems through biotechnology.
Achievements / Distinctions
In the past two years, CEB research accomplishments include the following:
Established zebrafish facility and ecotoxicology program surrounding the effect of C60 nanoparticles on embryonic development. Investment by CEB and the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment (ISSE) led to an EPA grant and a high-impact article in Environmental Health Perspectives (Henry et al., 2007, 115(7): 1059–1065).
Established proof-of-concept for a mammalian bioluminescent cell line based on the bacterial lux operon. This work is laying the foundation for a new suite of tools that can be used for cancer screening and in vivo bioimaging.
Identified suites of genes that are controllable by electrical induction. This project is demonstrating a new methodology for stimulating gene expression and controlling intracellular processes in procaryotic and eucaryotic cells.
Assays developed at CEB are being used to track sources of fecal contamination in Tennessee water supplies. These assays are also part of a larger NIH-funded project in collaboration with Columbia University, ICDDR in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and the University of North Carolina.
CEB-supported research faculty teamed with faculty from Earth and Planetary Sciences and ORNL to win SERDP funding to study TNT munitions fate and transport at military ranges.
The Center for Environmental Biotechnology was established in 1986 by UTK and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to foster a multidisciplinary approach for training the next generation of environmental scientists and for solving environmental problems through biotechnology. Over the past 23 years, the CEB has distinguished itself as a world leader in developing the interdisciplinary research field of environmental biotechnology. The CEB has evolved over the years by incorporation of state-of-the-art technology into its research programs and directing research towards emerging environmental needs. CEB has six core research areas that incorporate faculty, staff, and students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the Institute of Agriculture.
These research activities are synergistic with the Joint Institute for Biological Sciences (JIBS)and ISSE. JIBS provide access to state-of-the-art DNA-sequencing instrumentation as well as advanced mass spectrometry for proteomics and metabolomics research. This instrumentation places CEB faculty at the forefront of systems biology research and its applications to environmental biotechnology as well as bioenergy sciences.
CEB promotes interdisciplinary research in its graduate training program. Currently, approximately 12 graduate students conduct their research in CEB laboratories. These students are from the departments of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Genome Science and Technology Program. In addition, six undergraduates are gaining research experience in CEB.
CEB staff have been active in education and outreach to the general public and to K–12 organizations. Their work includes developing workshops to aid K–12 teachers in presenting astrobiology to science students and educating the citizens of Chattanooga on the hazards and issues surrounding their local Superfund site.
The CEB occupies 26,000 square feet of laboratory space in the state-of-the-art Science and Engineering Research Facility located on the Knoxville campus. Extensive specialized microbial and chemical analytical equipment is available for CEB researchers.
CEB continues to support research in emerging environmental, biomonitoring, and bioimaging areas. Such research areas include
- in vivo sensing and control using bioluminescent mammalian reporter cells lines incorporated into integrated circuits;
- detection of environmental endocrine disruptors in the environment and their effect on mammalian gene expression;
- isolation of bacterial strains and enzymes from novel environments that can breakdown lignocellulose;
- hydrogen production using novel microbial fuel cells.
Gary Sayler, Ph.D., Director
The Center for Environmental Biotechnology
676 Dabney Hall
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-1605
Phone: (865) 974-8080