My research group has an interest in three primary areas:
1) Metagenomic Analysis of Microbial Assemblages. We use a microbial community genomic approach (a.k.a.“metagenomic”) to study complex microbial assemblages in different environments. The research topics include expression of natural products (enzymes, metabolites) encoded by environmental metagenomes. In particular, we focus on expression of biosynthetic gene clusters obtained from soil metagenomes in order to characterize bioactive metabolites that can inhibit the growth of multidrug-resistant pathogens.
2) Biological control of disease using beneficial microorganisms. We have identified probiotic bacteria, particularly within the genus Bacillus, that can prevent and control disease in aquaculture farmed fish and in agriculturally important plants. We are investigating the natural products produced by these probiotics that can enhance growth performance of the animal or plant host, or inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. We also are investigatings ways to enhance the metabolism of these probiotics to enhance their in situ beneficial activities.
3) Pathogenesis and control of virulent Aeromonas hydrophila. Our studies have led to the development of diagnostic methods and a vaccine for a virulent strain of Aeromonas hydrophila that is responsible for severe epidemic outbreaks of disease in farmed fish in the United States, China and other countries. Our lab studies the pathogenesis of disease and the control of disease using both biological control agents and an attenuated vaccine. We are also helping the worldwide community of aquaculture researchers track the distribution and spread of virulent Aeromonas hydrophila.