Environmental Microbiology

Env microThis program concentrates on indicator and pathogenic microorganisms in waters used for recreation, aquaculture, and shellfish harvesting. One focus of this program is understanding the ecology of autochthonous bacteria and viruses in estuarine waters. There is also an emphasis on developing rapid methods for detection of indicators/pathogens of fecal contamination in shellfish and marine waters and methods that can be used to identify sources of fecal contamination from watersheds.  Another focus is understanding the biology and ecology of microorganisms causing disease in animals such as mycobacteriosis in striped bass attributed to new species of environmental mycobacteria and the menhaden ulcerative-syndrome caused by the water mold Aphanomyces invadans.


Research efforts evaluate the validity and ecology of microorganisms as indicators of sewage or fecal contamination and cultural, immunological, and molecular methods for their detection and enumeration. Other research interests include nitrification, microbial degradation of xenobiotic compounds and petroleum hydrocarbons, processes within watersheds that affect the microbial ecology of receiving waters, bacterial pathogens and disease processes of shellfish and finfish, and the ecology of naturally occurring viruses. Microbiological problems relevant to state and national interests and of regulatory or resource management significance are commonly addressed.

Principal investigator: Dr. Howard Kator