Microbial Genetics/Molecular Biology
I am interested in DNA repair mechanisms and recombination. These processes are essential for the protection of organisms from DNA-damaging agents such as ultraviolet light and chemical mutagens. These mechanisms also contribute to the evolution of new traits. Projects in my lab involve using genetic and molecular techniques to study DNA repair and recombination in the bacteria Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter baylyi. In E. coli, DNA damage causes the induction of over 20 genes and this is termed the SOS response. Although the SOS system has served as a model for understanding DNA repair and recombination in other systems such as yeast, plants and humans, there is still much that we don't understand about the SOS response in E. coli. For example, we have not yet identified the precise inducing signal of the SOS response or the biological functions of many of the SOS gene products. It is not yet clear whether A. baylyi exhibits an E. coli-like SOS response. Characterization of DNA repair and recombination in A. baylyi may increase our understanding of these processes generally and may be applicable towards utilization of A. baylyi for bioremediation and biotechnology. Courses in Genetics and Microbiology would be helpful for students interested in pursuing these projects. Other independent projects in microbial genetics and molecular biology are possible.