James M. Tiedje
University Distinguished Professor and Director
My laboratory seeks to understand the ecology, physiology, and genetics/genomics underlying important microbial processes in nature. This theme unifies our research in several project areas, all of which have basic research components; several have considerable public interest and some have an applied component. In earlier years our research focused on microbial processes and the environmental factors controlling those processes; but as molecular methods improved, we began to use these methods to understand the populations and eventually the genes responsible for those processes. Recently, with the increasing availability of genome sequencing, we have taken genomic, proteomic and microarray approaches to understand the underlying diversity and dynamics controlling these ecological processes. Many of these projects involve collaborations with other groups to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the biology of these organisms and processes as they occur in natural communities. The processes of interest have been those important in the global biogeochemical cycles, especially nitrogen and carbon cycles, and in degradation of pollutants - especially chlorinated pollutants and pharmaceuticals. In an effort to understand the origin and patterns of microbial diversity, we have explored the biogeography of populations, as well as compared genomes by sequence and DNA microarray hybridizations, to gain insight into spatial patterns and evolutionary changes. We are particularly interested in the genomes of closely related populations where the organism's ecology is known so that we can begin to link genetic composition to ecological outcomes. For this, we have (or have underway), the genome sequences of more than 10 Burkholderia, 10 Shewanella, three permafrost and one halorespiring microbe, providing an excellent resource for future ecological genomics research.
Dr. Tiedje is University Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, and is Director of the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University. His research focuses on microbial ecology, physiology and diversity, especially regarding the nitrogen cycle, biodegradation of environmental pollutants and use of molecular methods to understand microbial community structure and function. His group has discovered several microbes that biodegrade chlorinated pollutants and is using genomics to better understand microbial functions in their environment. He has served as Editor-in-Chief of Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Editor of Microbial and Molecular Biology Reviews. He has over 500 refereed publications including seven in Science and Nature. He shared the 1992 Finley Prize from UNESCO for research contributions in microbiology of international significance, is Fellow of the AAAS (The American Association for the Advancement of Science), the American Academy of Microbiology, and the Soil Science Society of America, and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He was President of the American Society for Microbiology and the International Society for Microbial Ecology. He received his B.S. degree from Iowa State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University.
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