Spring 2015 Newsletter | Biology | Marquette University




Dr. Hristova

A major group of persistent organic pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are widely found in natural environments. PAHs presence has been previously detected in sediments of the Southern Basin of Lake Michigan, including the Outer Milwaukee Harbor. Characterization of microbial biodegradation potential in sediments is a key issue in determining the fate of these persistent contaminants in fresh water coastal environments.


Dr. Krassi Hristova received a funding from MMSD to determine if the Lake Michigan coastal microbial communities have the potential to biodegrade a mixture of PAHs. Understanding microbial diversity and which microorganisms are involved in biodegradation of these pollutants will help in a targeted approach to isolate these environmental organisms and in the design of bioremediation approaches. In addition, Dr. Hristova’s lab will attempt to determine if detected concentrations of PAHs pose risk to benthic aquatic organisms and thus threaten environmental health.




Fitts Lab

Cassie Nelson (Ph.D. ’14), and Robert Fitts. Effects of low cell pH and elevated inorganic phosphate on the pCa-force relationship in single muscle fibers at near-physiological temperatures. American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology 306: C670-C678, 2014.


Cassie Nelson (Ph.D. 2014), E. P. Debold, and Robert Fitts. Phoshate and acidosis act synergistically to depress peak power in rat muscle fibers." American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology 307: C939-C950, 2014.


Robert Fitts, James R. Peters, E L. Dillon, William J. Durham, Melinda Sheffield-Moore, and Randall J. Urban. "Weekly versus monthly testosterone administration on fast and slow skeletal muscle fibers in older adult males." Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 100 (2): E223-E231, 2015.


Hristova Lab

Geetika, J., Schmidt, R., Scow, K., Denison, M.S., and Krassimira Hristova. Gene mdpC plays a regulatory role in the methyl-tert-butyl ether degradation pathway of Methylibium petroleiphilum strain PM1. FEMS Microbiol Lett (2015) 362 (7): DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/femsle/fnv029 First published online: 27 February 2015 (7 pages).


Anthony Kappell (post-doctoral researcher), DeNies, M., Neha Ahuja (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ’13), Ledeboer, N., Newton, R., and Krassimira Hristova. Detection of multi-drug resistant Escherichia coli in the urban waterways of Milwaukee, WI. Front. Microbiol, 29 April 2015 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2015.00336.


Maki Lab

Prince Mathai (graduate student), Zitomer DH, James Maki. (2015) Quantitative detection of syntrophic fatty acid degrading bacterial communities in methanogenic environments. Microbiology (in press)

Tale, V.P., James Maki, & D.H. Zitomer (2015) Bioaugmentation of overloaded anaerobic digesters restores function and archaeal community. Water Research 70: 138-147


Bocher, B.T.W., Keerthi Cherukuri (M.S. '12), James Maki, M. Johnson, and D.H. Zitomer (2015) Relating methanogen community structure and anaerobic digester function. Water Research 70: 425-435.


Noel Lab

Zac Lunak (graduate student) and Dale Noel. (2015). A quinol oxidase, encoded by cyoABCD, is utilized to adapt to lower O2 concentrations in Rhizobium etli CFN42. Microbiology 161, 203-212.)


St. Maurice Lab

Nagar M, Britt Wyatt (graduate student), Martin St. Maurice, Bearne S. (2015) Inactivation of mandelate racemase by 3-hydroxypyruvate reveals a mechanistic link between enzyme superfamilies. Biochemistry (in press)



Blumenthal’s Lab at Drosophila Conference

Dr. Edward Blumenthal attended the Drosophila Research Conference in Chicago, March 4-8, along with graduate student Sean Conway, undergrad Tyler Halicek, and summer student Danielle Scheunemann. Sean presented a poster on his research (co-authored by former grad student Chrissy Sansone). Tyler and Danielle presented a poster together on their research. Dr. Blumenthal also served as a judge at two local Milwaukee high school science fairs.




Rice on the Roof Attracting Media Attention

Rice on the Roof, Dr. Schlappi

Dr. Michael Schlappi has been receiving a good deal of press this spring for his work to identify rice strains that could grow in Wisconsin’s cold climate. He was recognized as a Social Innovator at Marquette during a recent MU basketball game, featured in the MU Tribune, and is going to be profiled throughout the summer on the radio by WUWM’s Susan Bence. The photo above shows reporter Susan Bence interviewing Dr. Schlappi as he plants rice seedlings.


Petrella awarded Way Klingler Young Scholar Award

Dr. Petrella Young Scholar Award

Temperature has special environmental interest because, despite perhaps being in the range of only a few degrees, the temperature increases due to global warming have significant and direct consequences on how animals develop. In addition, there are many connections of Dr. Lisa Petrella’s work to human biology, including loss of male fertility at high temperature,”

-Dr. Dale Noel commenting on Dr. Petrella’s research.

Dr. Lisa Petrella, who is studying the effects of changing temperatures on germ cells, has been awarded a Way Klingler Young Scholar Award, which supports promising young scholars in critical stages of their careers. The award up to $32,000 is intended to fund $2,000 in operating costs and to cover up to 50 percent of salary to afford the recipient a one-semester sabbatical. Dr. Petrella says, “Understanding what goes wrong in these cells has implications not only in human and livestock fertility, but also in potentially catastrophic loss of certain types of invertebrate populations with an increase in global temperatures.

Abbott Competes at Boston Marathon

Allison Abbott runs Boston Marathon
Dr. Allison Abbott ran in this year’s Boston Marathon. The race day was cold and rainy, but Dr. Abbott still pulled out a nice finish in 3 hours and 25 minutes.








Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
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P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-7355