Professor (Senior Research)
Molecular biology, biochemistry and physiology of microorganisms that are capable of alkane oxidation and of microorganisms in the nitrogen cycle.
Description of Research
My major interest is the study of nitrifying and alkane-utilizing bacteria. Nitrifying bacteria play an important role in the nitrogen and carbon cycles. Nitrification is the bacterial process where microorganisms use ammonia for growth, oxidizing it to nitrite. Alkane-utilizing bacteria are participants in the carbon cycle throughout the utilization of hydrocarbons. Nitrifying and alkane-oxidizing bacteria have potential for the bioremediation of sites contaminated with halogenated aliphatic hydrocarbons.
The research on nitrification focuses on the physiology of the lithoautotrophic bacterium Nitrosomonas europaea at the whole genome level. The laboratory has also started the study of five other nitrifying bacteria in a multi-laboratory effort to annotate their genomes and study their physiology.
The research on alkane utilization deals primarily with the characterization of the metabolism of butane by P. butanovora . Specifically, the laboratory is studying the regulation of the expression of the soluble enzyme responsible for the oxidation of butane (sBMO), the characterization of the catalytic properties of sBMO, and the further elucidation of the oxidation pathway of butane.