Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-16-2024


Bioremediation capability should be developed along with biofuel technology to mitigate the potential damage of future spills. Biobutanol is being developed since n-butanol is more energy dense and less volatile than ethanol. A bottleneck for industrial production of biobutanol is its toxicity; most microbes cannot survive ~1.5% v/v. Thus, microbial bioremediation of n-butanol would need microbes that can both tolerate and metabolize butanol. We used ecological and evolutionary biology approaches to find bacteria that could tolerate and metabolize butanol. Ecological community-level assays followed by 16S amplicon sequencing were completed to identify butanol-tolerant artificial bacterial communities. Secondly, we looked for bacteria with alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes and experimentally increased butanol metabolism. We found that the tolerance for n-butanol may be improved with repeated exposure and switching from tolerance to metabolism was infrequent. Bacterial community dynamics may be influenced by n-butanol concentration, and there was putative butanol metabolism found with both research approaches.

Project Sponsors

U.S. Department of Energy



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

David Hanson

Second Committee Member

Donald Natvig

Third Committee Member

Erik Hanschen

Fourth Committee Member

Blake Hovde

Included in

Biology Commons