Microbiology and Biotechnology
View with Grad Students
Dr. Daniel Barreda
Evolution of host defense mechanisms; contributions of phagocytes to the induction and control of inflammation at infection sites; comparative immunology approaches for assessment of animal and environmental health.
Dr. Mike Belosevic
Immunobiology of host-parasite interactions, molecular mechanisms of host defense against protozoan parasites Leishmania and Giardia; lymphokine regulation of macrophage anti-microbial activities; biochemical and immunological characterization of parasite antigens and immunodiagnosis of parasitic infections. Molecular mechanisms of fish immune responses.
Dr. Jonathan Dennis
Phage therapy; Bacterial genetics / genomics; Mobile genetic elements; Burkholderia cepacia complex; Antibiotic resistance and organic solvent tolerance; Bacterial multidrug efflux pumps; Bacterial biodegredation and bioremediation.
Dr. Mario Feldman
Dr. Mario Feldman research interests focus on protein glycosylation in pathogenic bacteria and the potential application of the relaxed specificity of the enzymes involved in these pathways in applications that promise a new era in glycoengineering.
Dr. Julia Foght
Current interests include microbial biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons, particularly under adverse environmental conditions in fuel-contaminated Antarctic soils, cold groundwater and subsurface soils. Other research areas related to petroleum microbiology include fundamental studies on mechanisms of hydrocarbon transport across bacterial membranes, and the use of whole cell biocatalysts for biological upgrading of petroleum and refined products. Interests unrelated to hydrocarbon degradation include the isolation and characterization of cold-adapted bacterial communities that live underneath glaciers. My students use classical microbiology and current molecular techniques to address these problems, and are exposed to interdisciplinary research through collaborative projects in Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
Dr. John Gamon
Dr. Gamon studies the "breathing of the planet" - the exchanges of carbon and water vapour between the biosphere and the atmosphere that affect ecosystem productivity and help regulate our atmosphere and climate. Of particular interest are the effects of disturbance (fires, succession, weather events and climate change) on these basic processes. Additional research questions involve the detection of plant physiology, ecosystem function, species composition, and biodiversity using non-contact sampling methods. Much of this work is done with optical monitoring (remote sensing and automated field methods), and entails the development of new monitoring methods and related informatics tools. He conducts fieldwork in a range of ecosystems from the Arctic to the Tropics.
Dr. Brian Lanoil
Microbiology of extreme environments, with an emphasis on polar and icy environments and hypersaline systems.
Dr. Brenda Leskiw
Regulation of the onset of antibiotic biosynthesis and morphological differentiation in Streptomyces.
Dr. Bradley Magor
As part of a normal immune response, the genes encoding antibodies are targeted by a mutator protein called AID. These mutations normally lead to an improved antibody response to a given pathogen. This mutator protein must be tightly controlled to ensure that only antibody genes are targeted. My lab investigates how this system evolved, and how it is controlled to provide an improved immune response without leading to autoimmune disease or cancer.
Dr. Katharine Magor
My research focuses on the genetics of disease resistance in animals. Ducks are the natural host of influenza viruses, and are typically unharmed by strains that are lethal to poultry. We focused first on genes that control disease resistance in animals, namely the MHC Class I genes. We have identified limitations in this viral detection system in ducks, which will affect vaccination and their role as natural reservoir of influenza viruses. We are also characterizing genes of pattern recognition receptors, the master control switches for the innate immune system. Supporting projects in the lab focus on identifying immune relevant genes for studying innate immune responses.
Dr. Deborah McKenzie
The major research focus of my lab is chronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease affected deer and elk. We are using There are five major research directions: 1) role of Prnp genetics on susceptibility to prion infection, 2) CWD strains, 3) role of metals in prion infection, 4) prion disease pathogenesis and 5) development of biomarkers for prion diseases.
Dr. George Owttrim
My lab is investigating the mechanisms by which photosynthetic organisms sense and respond to environmental change, using cyanobacterial RNA helicases as our model system.
Dr. Tracy Raivio
Stress responses of Escherichia coli and their role in pathogenesis. Genetic, molecular biological and biochemical approaches are used to identify and characterize regulatory pathways involved in responding to stresses to the bacterial envelope that may be encountered either in the environment or during an infection.
Dr. Lisa Stein
Physiology, genomics, and ecology of nitrification and denitrification.
Influence of microbial metabolism on greenhouse gas production.
Dr. Christine Szymanski
We are interested in examining host-pathogen interactions in order to understand and exploit virulence mechanisms used by bacteria colonizing mucosal surfaces. Campylobacter jejuni, a leading cause of bacterial food poisoning worldwide, provides an exciting model system for our studies. My research group has been characterizing campylobacter glycosylation systems including the first identified bacterial N-linked protein glycosylation pathway (see image below) and the extremely variable capsular polysaccharides, that have been demonstrated to play important roles in chicken colonization, bacteriophage evasion and diarrheal disease. Analytical technologies such as high resolution magic angle spinning (HR-MAS) NMR, proteomics and microarrays coupled with representative model systems are being used for the identification of novel virulence determinants, gene and protein expression profiling, and elucidation of regulatory networks.
Dr. David Wishart
PhD (Molecular Biophysics), Yale University, 1991. Professor, Depts. of Computing Science, Biological Sciences and the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Alberta. Dr. Wishart is the holder of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Chair in Protein Chemistry and in 2003 was cross-appointed as a research scientist with the NRC\'s National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT). He is a co-founder of BioTools Inc. (a bioinformatics company) and Chenomx Inc. (a metabonomics company), both of which are located in Edmonton. Dr. Wishart is also a co-founder of the Canadian Bioinformatics Workshops - a national bioinformatics training program that has been in operation since 1999. Additionally, Dr. Wishart has served as the chair of the Canadian Proteomics Initiative (CPI) conference for the past 3 years. Dr. Wishart\'s research interests lie in 1) the development of bioinformatics software, 2) the modelling of biological systems, 3) structural proteomics and 4) the application of NMR spectroscopy to drug discovery. He is currently supervising 18 students, staff and post-doctoral fellows. Since 1990 he has published nearly 100 papers on a variety of topics ranging from gene prediction, metabolomics, structural proteomics, NMR spectroscopy and cancer detection.
Dr. Gane Wong
Professor Wong is jointly appointed in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Medicine. He is also Associate Director of the Beijing Genomics Institute and a Guest Professor in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The unifying theme behind his research is the relentless improvement in our ability to acquire molecular biology data at lower costs. His two biggest programs are in plant sequencing and in viral metagenomics. In the first instance, he is leading an international consortium to collect gene sequence information for 1000 plant species. In the second instance, he is partnered with medical doctors at the University of Alberta to develop novel methods to identify pathogens in clinical samples. In all cases, enormous quantities of data are collected for these projects, and hence computational analysis plays a central role. Development of algorithms that deal with the practicalities of these data sets is another component of his research. Prospective graduate students and postdoctoral fellows MUST be fluent in mathematics and computational analysis, as well as in biology.
Dr. Phillip Fedorak (Emeritus)
Environmental microbiology. Aerobic degradation of hydrocarbons, sulfur- and nitrogen-heterocycles in crude oil. Anaerobic degradation of phenols by methanogenic consortia. Bioremediation.
Dr. Laura Frost (Emeritus)
Signaling mechanisms that initiate plasmid transfer: the role of the conjugative pilus in conjugation and phage infection; the events that lead to nicking at OriT on the plasmid DNA. Antisense RNA and RNA stability; regulation of transfer gene expression by F- and host-encoded factors during entry and exit from stationary phase and during extracytoplasmic stress.
Dr. Susan Jensen (Emeritus)
Genetic and biochemical investigation of the production of antibiotics by the organism Streptomyces clavuligerus.
Dr. William Page (Emeritus)
My research concentrates on the physiology of Azotobacter including iron-regulated gene expression and nutritional control of cell activities. Applied work includes the production and biodegradation of poly-b-hydroxybutyrate copolymers, a family of natural plastics.