The Environmental Microbial Genomics Group in the Laboratoire Ampère at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon (Université de Lyon; "University of Lyons") examines a range of research topics from fundamental mechanisms of bacterial adaptation such as horizontal gene transfer and de novo gene synthesis to environmental perturbations due to anthropogenic activities such as nickel mining and environmental pollution. Important society based questions are also addressed such as the fate of transgenes from transgenic plants, drug discovery, impact of anthropogenic extreme environments, fate of REACH chemicals, and the bioremediation of contaminated soils and water.
A central technological approach employed to answer different questions relies on the use of metagenomic methods. Metagenomic techniques access total microbial genomes in environments in order to avoid biases associated with culture-dependent approaches (Metagenomic 2008 presentation). Production and screening of clone libraries, use of phylogenetic microarrays and functional gene quantification with Real-time PCR are commonly used methods.
Metagenomic approaches are used to resolve scientific questions in the above research areas as well as the microbial ecology of diverse environments such as the human digestive tract, human skin and mercury-impacted Arctic snow.
This group also benefits from close ties with electrical engineers for the exploration of the effect of lightning on gene transfer, possible lightning related soil bioremediation techniques, and the production of electricity from microbial fuel cells.
This range of research can be alternatively referred to as microbial ecology, environmental microbiology (click for intro) and ecological engineering.