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Professor of Environmental Microbiology


Professor Leadbetter's research seeks to clarify the form, function, and spatial distribution of diverse microbes in their environment. His past studies have focused on the cultivation of microbial strains possessing unusual, atypical, or previously unrecognized properties, and have sought to reveal the impact of these organisms on their given environment. He has applied the use of a number of physiological, chemical, and molecular genetic techniques to his studies, underscoring the utility of both classical and newly developed methods in the pursuit of fundamental questions in Environmental Microbiology.

Termites and their diverse gut microbiota

The other passion in Professor Leadbetter's research is the study of the mutualistic symbiosis formed between termites and their diverse gut bacteria (especially the abundant spirochetes), archaea, and protozoal eucarya. Far from being merely pests, termites are important globally, playing critical roles in wood lignocellulose turnover and in nitrogen cycling in a variety of rainforest and other ecosystems. He has sought to better understand important gut processes at a cellular level using a broad diversity of both classical and emerging approaches.