|Our group is interested in the use of biotechnology to
study environmental issues. Our main focus is on the marine
environment and the study of soft corals that produce
bioactive metabolites (marine natural products). In
addition, we are interested in the signaling pathway of the
stress response in corals that leads to bleaching and/or
disease. Finally, we are interested in the process of
microbial influenced corrosion (MIC) of oil field pipelines.
1. Soft Coral-Associated Microbial Communities
- A goal of our lab is to study the genetic and
chemical diversity of bacterial communities associated
with corals and other marine invertebrates.
- In addition, we are involved in the culture of
microbial populations associated with marine
- Our focus is on soft corals and other natural
product-producing invertebrates such as sponges and
- Of particular interest are intra- and
inter-geographical variations of microbial populations
within the same species of organisms.
- We are also interested in the culture of these
bacteria with the ultimate goal of natural product
2. Molecular Mechanism of Environmental Stresses in
- A second goal is to identify and quantify by
molecular techniques the stress and immune response of
corals and other soft-bodied invertebrates and of their
- We will begin by focusing on the expression at the
mRNA level of the stress-inducible heat shock proteins,
nitric oxide synthase (NOS), and other proteins that
might be involved in the stress and immune response of
soft corals and their symbionts.
- Currently, my lab in collaboration with Dr.
Cliff Ross (U. of North Florida) and Dr. Laura Mydlarz
(UT Arlington) has been analyzing the stress response of
a soft corals at the molecular and at the protein level.
The selected model organisms respond to thermal stress
by bleaching (loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae).
3. Biotechnology of Marine Natural Products
- Our work on this area focuses on soft coral
metagenomes that are known to be involved in the
production of natural products with anti-inflammatory
and anti-cancer properties.
- My lab will be using biotechnology to clone
and express key enzymes involved in the biosynthetic
pathways of some of these biologically active compounds
with the ultimate goal of producing these by
4. Microbial Influenced Corrosion of Oil-Field Pipelines
- Corrosion associated with oil field pipelines
causes economic loses to the oil and gas industry.
- Bacterial biofilms are known to trigger a
process known as microbial-influenced corrosion (MIC) of
which the exact mechanism is not completely understood.
- The study of the bacterial diversity
associated to biofilms will allow for the better
understanding of the interaction between corrosive
bacteria and metal surfaces
- Our lab aims to identify the bacterial
population in biofilms collected from oil field
pipelines and to understand how these are involved in
- This project is in collaboration with Dr.
Victor Keasler, Nalco Company.