Director, Microbiology Graduate Programs
Bacteriophage; microbial genetics and genomics; biotechnology
Our interests include the molecular biology and genomics of bacteriophages and bacteria. Bacteriophages are the single most abundant biological entities on earth, with estimates of over 1031 in number. Over several years, our experience has included working with phages that infect E. coli, Salmonella, Bacillus, Vibrio, Mycobacterium and currently Paenibacillus larvae, a pathogen of honey bees that causes American Foulbrood Disease (AFB). Phage genomics is extremely tractable since phage can be relatively easily isolated, the current cost of DNA sequencing is low, and assembly and annotation of phage genomes is readily learned and accomplished. Graduate students and undergraduates can participate in a variety of projects with fairly short learning curves. With unrestricted support from the Bayer Bee Care Center (BBCC), we are pursuing P. larvae phage isolation, genome characterization and analysis of specific phage gene and protein functions of interest. Some of this work could impact our understanding and treatment of AFB.
We also have microbiology projects involving collaborators on campus that include studies of the enzymes of isobutylene catabolism by Mycobacterium sp. (with Dr. Michael Hyman), study of defense against bacterial infections in honey bees (with Dr. David Tarpy), study of novel porphyrins produced by cyanobacteria (with Dr. Jon Lindsey), and study of honey bee hive microbiomes (with Dick Rogers at BBCC). Students and research scientists at all levels are involved in this work. Contact us at any time if you’d like to discuss one of these projects.