Genetic optimisation of bacteria-induced calcite precipitation for application in self-healing concrete

Timothy Hoffmann, Kevin Paine, Susanne Gebhard

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Microbes in the built environment are mostly associated with topics of biodegradation, biocorrosion, and bioweathering, rather than their lesser-known positive impacts. However, over recent years, bacteria have been at the basis of innovative technologies arising in civil engineering that capitalize on a process known as bacterial induced calcite precipitation (BICP). This finds application, for example, in self-healing concrete. This technology uses encapsulated, alkali-tolerant, spore-forming bacteria embedded into concrete to repair cracks that appear during aging of built structures. BICP is a process whereby a microenvironment is created as a by-product of bacterial metabolism, which favors the precipitation of calcium cations and carbonate anions in the form of mineral calcite. This process is dependent on changes in pH, availability of cell surface nucleation sites, and ion concentrations. Current approaches that use bacteria in these
technologies select for BICP-capable strains from the environment that further exhibit specific characteristic required for their respective application (e.g. pH or salt tolerance). In this project, we explore the genetic optimization of BICP for application in self-healing concrete. Our work offers an approach to identify the basic components needed for BICP to occur and a way to mobilize these into better-suited chassis organisms for application. Our results show that upregulating
the ureolytic pathway offers a promising mechanism whereby BICP can be introduced into a non-precipitating strain. The ultimate goal is to create a new generation of bio-concrete that increases the lifespan of cementitious structures and as such decreases the high maintenance costs and high carbon dioxide release associated with concrete production and building.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2019
Event7th International Conference on Self-Healing Materials - Yokohama, Japan
Duration: 2 Jun 20195 Jun 2019


Conference7th International Conference on Self-Healing Materials
Abbreviated titleICSHM2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetic optimisation of bacteria-induced calcite precipitation for application in self-healing concrete'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this