Future Fellowship Announcements

Congratulations Dr. Frank Reith for receiving the ARC Future Fellowship!



Future Fellow: Dr. Frank Reith

Project: Geobiological gold cycling: golden opportunities for the minerals industry

This ARC Future Fellowship in geomicrobiology is ultimately aimed at creating the research concentration focussing on the development of innovative strategies for geobiological exploration and bio-processing, which are rooted in the deep understanding of the global geobiological gold cycling.

This fellowship aims to develop new geobiological tools for gold exploration and processing that are rooted in the fundamental understanding of global, geobiological gold cycling. Australia, as a world-leading gold exporter, strongly relies on innovative approaches to enhance its mining excellence. Yet, many gaps in our fundamental understanding of bio(geo)chemical gold dispersion and precipitation remain. This project aims fill these gaps by linking biochemical pathways of gold mobilisation and resistance in bacteria to its transport and biomineralisation. This will enable the development of protein-based biosensors, bioindicators and nano-vectors for exploration and bioaccumulation technologies to enhance production from sub-economic ore.

Given the high production costs, the sustainability of the Australian gold industry relies strongly on innovation. This fellowship aims to provide the biomolecular understanding of the geobiological processes driving the gold cycle. This will result in development of biotechnologies allowing more economically sustainable and environmentally viable mining practices, hence affirming Australia’s leadership role in gold exploration and processing.

Research questions and applications:

Question 1: Are mobile gold(I/III)-complexes and suspended nanoparticles equally important as vectors of gold transport around buried deposits?
Application 1: Ultrasensitive analytical methods for gold exploration.

Question 2: Can soil microbial communities indicate underlying gold deposits?
Application 2: Bioindicator arrays for exploration.

Question 3: Which biochemical pathway does gold detoxification/resistance and biomineralisation follow in Cupriavidus metallidurans?
Application 3: Field-based biosensor for quantification of gold in exploration samples.

Question 4: Do gold grains form in Earth surface environments?
Application 4: Bio-processing technology for sub-economic materials.