Research

Marine Microbiology and Generation of Natural Product Fraction Library

Over the past 30 years, the marine environment has emerged as a frontier in natural products discovery, with a focus on sponges, tunicates, and algae. More recently, the vast microbial diversity of the marine environment has been demonstrated as a promising resource of biological and chemical diversity. With this as a starting point, we have collected marine sediments from locations around the world, with an emphasis on samples from coastal Texas and South Carolina, as well as the Bahamas, Tonga, and Ecuador.

Using a combination of existing methods and new strategies, we have built a continually expanding collection of unique marine bacteria for our discovery efforts. We have had particular success using biochemical and environmental factors to enrich for novel actinomycete and a-proteobacteria diversity. Our approach aims to take advantage of the importance of bacterial small-molecule communication, such as quorum sensing, as a way to stimulate growth of specific types of bacteria. 

Photo of trees
Investigation of mangrove swamps led to our discovery of mangrolide A, a promising antibiotic against Gram-negative pathogens
Photo of lake
Hypersaline lake
Diagram
Strategy for isolation of marine-derived bacteria