Department of Microbiology
Only 10 years ago the "brown rot" wood degrading fungi were considered to be poorly evolved organisms in the fungal world. It was known that they lacked many of the enzymatic systems that the taxonomically more numerous "white rot" wood degrading fungi possessed, and it was thought that the brown rot fungi just had not yet reached a stage of evolution to produce these enzymatic systems. In essence, they were thought to be more primitive fungal organisms. However, new genomic analyses conducted over the last 7-8 years have turned this thinking on its head.
Nearly all food and agricultural waste in the U.S. enters landfills, making it the largest contributor of material entering these sites. Biological pre-treatment of large organic molecules by fermentative organisms lowers the high organic carbon load in waste, lowers wastewater treatment costs, and can produce bioenergy to partially offset costs. Conceivably, microbes that grow best above 80°C, or so-called ‘hyperthermophiles’, could be used to consolidate wastewater heat treatment and organic remediation in a single step to decrease costs while producing H2 as an energy product.
The purpose of this research is to identify the microbial community constituents of mosquito midgut contents in order to identify new pathogens and functional gut microbes.