Current and Potential Research Applications

Marine Sciences:

  • Identification and sorting of subpopulations of phytoplankton which have activated programmed cell death pathways in response to viral infection and nutrient depletion; characterizing in situ marine ectohydrolase activities for specific microbial subpopulations.
  • Use of fluorescent-based probes to sort microbial populations encased in ancient Antarctic ice over geologic time scales.
  • Assesing the physiological ecology of phytoplankton subpopulations.
  • Assessment of the photosynthetic niche specialization among subpopulations of phytoplankton and coral cell cultures.
  • Determination of trace metal quotas for specific subpopulations of phytoplankton.
  • Assessing the genetic diversity and population dynamics of marine microbes.
  • Detection and sorting of phosphorus-limited cells from natural populations in the Sargasso Sea and Bermuda Atlantic Time Series.
  • Isolation and characerization of subpopulations of the parasite Perkinsus marinus, which selectively infects oysters and razor clams.
  • Use of chromosomal sorting to assess the effect of polyploidy to disease resistance in the eastern oyster, Crossosstria virginica.

Environmental Sciences

  • Use in biodegradation studies to determine which community members able to utilize and detoxify selected hazardous substrates.
  • Targetted separation of abiotic vs. biotic marine particles for assessment of differing chemical bind loads.
  • Interrogation of microbial populations that differ with respect to their ability to associate with and degrade non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs)
  • Use in bioremediation of sediments and groundwater and anaerobic digestion of sludges and waste biomass; quantifying specific bacterial or archael groups and the expressionof specific functional genes associated with in situ rates of dechlorination of dioxins and PCBs.
  • Quantitaion and isolation of microorganisms comprising the atmospheric biosphere; assessing microbial genetic mutation by cosmic radiation in the atmosphere.


  • Examining the population dynamics and phenotypic plasticity of protist species in response to environmental variation; assessing species diversity and community composition.

Environmental and Agricultural Biotechnology

  • Identification and separation of specific bacterial symbionts of marine sponges for elucidation of natural product synthesis.


  • Targetted quantitation and isolation of specific microbial subpopulations of bacteria and archaea from hydrothermal vents.
  • Assessing horizontal gene transfer of metal resistance genes and its role in the fitness of microbial communities in metal contaminated environments.

Plant Biology/Pathology

  • Examination of fungal isolates to elucidate differences in Turfgrass disease; investigating the function of viral genes in disease of cranberries and blueberries.
  • Investigation of ‘biological control’ microorganisms that are antagonistic to plant pathogens as effective disease control; assessment of gene expression and regulation for extracellular degradative enzymes and antibiotic production.