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The Physiology, Ecology, & Diversity of Microbes


Research in the Leadbetter Laboratory seeks to extend our understanding of, and appreciation for: the physiology, ecology, environmental impact, form, function, and phylogenetic diversity of microbial life.

Key topics of interest include cultivation of novel microbes possessing unusual, atypical, or previously unrecognized properties. Of particular interest are chemolithoautotrophic microbes -- organisms that oxidize inorganic electron donors such as hydrogen gas and manganese carbonate, and reduce inorganic electron acceptors such as carbon dioxide. Other major research foci include microbes that form symbioses with insects and other microbes; microbes involved in wood lignocelullose decay;  and the physiological & phylogenetic diversity of spirochetes.

In pursuit of answers of fundamental questions in Environmental Microbiology, research approaches in the Leadbetter Laboratory tap “the best of the old and the best of the new”. From classical enrichment cultivation and strain isolation of novel organisms, to microfluidics and other emerging approaches in (meta)genomics, (meta)transcriptomics, and other nucleic acid based analyses. From traditional light microscopy, to cryoelectron tomography and FISH-enabled NanoSIMS.  But always, at the center of all pursuits is a consideration of the combined properties of the living, microbial cell.

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