Hailiang Dong



Ph.D. 1997 University of Michigan
207 Shideler Hall

The overall objective of my research program is to understand how and why microorganisms and geological media (rocks, minerals, water) interact and how we can study their mutual interactions to understand a range of biogeochemical processes on Earth and beyond... My current research is focused on three broad areas:  1) mineral-microbe interactions; 2) life in various extreme environments (saline lakes on Tibetan Plateau, hot springs, and deep continental subsurface) and implications for life on Mars; 3) environmental bioremediation of heavy metals and radionuclides as well as organics such as TCE and PFAS.  I employ a number of geological, mineralogical, geochemical, and microbiological techniques to study these processes including microscopy, spectroscopy, aqueous geochemistry, molecular microbiology and cultivation, and modeling.  Most of my research projects are funded by NSF, DOE, DOD, ACS-PRF, and other internal (Miami University) and foreign (international) sources.

Possible Thesis/Dissertation Topics

  • Mineral-microbe-metal-organic matter interactions
  • Microbial remediation of heavy metals Cr, U, and nitrate
  • Biogeochemical cycling of C and N in hot springs

Current/Recent Graduate Research

  • Zuo, Hongyan (Ph.D. 2020) Coupled transformation of humic substances and redox cycling of iron in clay minerals and environmental implications
  • Kugler, Alex (Ph.D. 2020) Environmental interactions of phyllosilicates: microbial habitation, respiration, and organomodified phootreductive scaffolding
  • Dongyi Guo (Ph.D. in progress): Bioavailability of Mineral-associated Moybdenum as a Cofactor of Nif Nitrogenase for N Fixation
  • Jack Verbrugge (MS in progress): Microbial acquisition of trace metals from minerals

Selected Publications

Sheng, Y.*, Dong, H., Coffin, E., Myrold, D.D., and Kleber, M. (2022) The important role of enzyme adsorbing capacity of soil minerals in regulating β-glucosidase activity, Geophysical Research Letters, 49(6), e2021GL097556. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GL097556

Sheng, Y.*, Dong, H., Kukkadapu, R.K., Ni, S., Zeng, Q., Hu, J., Coffin, E., Zhao,S., Sommer, A.J., McCarrick, R.M., and Lorigan, G.A. (2021) Lignin-enhanced reduction of structural Fe(III) in nontronite: Dual roles of lignin as electron shuttle and donor. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 307, 1-21.

Kugler, A.*, Dong, H., Li, C., Gu, C., Schaefer, C., Choi, Y.J., Tran, D., Spraul, M., and Higgins, C. (2021) Reductive Defluorination of Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) by Hydrated Electrons Generated upon UV Irradiation of 3-Indole-acetic-acid in 12-Aminolauric-Modified Montmorillonite. Water Research, 200, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2021.117221.

Zhao, S.*, Jin, Q., Sheng, Y., Agrawal, A., Guo, D., and Dong, H. (2020) Promotion of microbial oxidation of structural Fe(II) in nontronite by oxalate and NTA. Environmental Science and Technology, 54, 13026-13035.

Srivastava, S.*, Dong, H., and Briggs, B.* (2020) The effect of spring water geochemistry on copper proteins in Tengchong hot springs, China, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 86(13), e00581-20, doi:10.1128/AEM.00581-20

Zhang, L.*, Dong, H., Kukkadapu, R.K., Jin, Q., and Kovarik, L. (2019) Electron Transfer Between Sorbed Fe(II) and Structural Fe(III) in Smectites and its Effect on Nitrate-Dependent Iron Oxidation by Pseudogulbenkiania sp. strain 2002. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 265, 132-147.

Bishop, M.E.*, Dong, H., Glasser, P., Briggs, B.R., Pentrak, M., Stucki, J.W., Boyanov, M.I., Kemner, K.M., and Kovarik, L. (2019) Reactivity of redox cycled Fe-bearing subsurface sediments towards hexavalent chromium reduction. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 252, 88-106.

Selected Grants

NSF 2020, Collaborative Research: Bioavailability of mineral-associated molybdenum as a cofactor of Nif nitrogenase for N2 fixation, National Science Foundation, EAR- 1937423, $311,906 + $49,998 = $361,904, 4/1/2020-3/31/2023.

DOD 2018, Complete Reductive Defluorination of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) by Hydrated Electrons Generated from 3-Indole-acetic-acid in Chitosan-Modified Montmorillonite, Department of Defense, SERDP, $199,980, 3/1/2018 -12/31/2020.

NSF 2017, Collaborative Research: The role of phyllosilicate minerals in mediating the temperature sensitivity of soil organic matter decomposition, National Science Foundation, EAR-1656988, $124,237, 9/1/2017-8/31/2019.

Teaching Interests

GLG 121 - Environmental Geology

GLG 211 - Chemistry of Earth Systems

GLG 402/502 - Geomicrobiology

GLG 496/596 - Isotopes in Environmental Processes

GLG 602 - Microbes and Geology

For a complete description of courses please see the 2022/2023 Miami Bulletin.