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Environmental Microbiology

Environmental microbiology is a diverse discipline that ranges from the study of pathogens in drinking water to the critical relationship between microbes and geochemistry.  Microbes are intimately involved in the transport, transformation and cycling of many different elements and chemical compounds, including pollutants.  Learning and understanding these processes can allow us to use microbes, for example, to clean up environmental hazards such as oil spills and to create new products through biotechnology. The discipline of environmental microbiology encompasses some of the most fundamental principles of hygiene and sanitation to our use of the most advanced molecular tools to identify unknown organisms in our environment.

The environmental microbiology research programs at MSU provide world-class training opportunities for graduate students interested in solving future problems.


Contact Us

Montana State University

Division of Graduate Education

Molecular Biosciences Program

P.O. Box 172580
Bozeman, MT 59717-2580

(406) 994-6652


Molecular BIOSciences |> Environmental Microbiology
|> Faculty |> Anne K. Camper, Ph. D


Current Research

Research interests in our laboratory are in biofilm growth and control in drinking and industrial water systems; the fate, transport and survival of pathogens in biofilm systems; and the physiology of biofilm bacteria. Our focus has been primarily in low-nutrient aquatic environments. We have been using and developing methods for use in environmental systems that include RT-PCR, microarrays, community profile analysis by DGGE, distinguishing live/dead cells by PCR analysis. For determining physiological aspects of biofilm vs. suspended cells, methods development has included microarrays and proteomics, with model organisms being Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Salmonella typhimurium. We also have a focus in integrating information obtained on biofilm formation using the scanning confocal laser microscope with models that can be used to predict biofilm behavior. Recent work also includes investigating the microbial ecology of nitrification in oligotrophic water systems using traditional culturing and molecular methods.

Recent Publications

Nocker, A., K. Sossa and A.K. Camper. 2007. Molecular monitoring of disinfection efficacy. J. Molecular Methods. 70:252-260. Nocker, A., P. Sossa, M. Burr and A.K. Camper. 2007. Use of propidium monoazide for live-dead distinction in microbial ecology. Appl. Environ. Microbiol 73:5111-5117. Klayman, B.J, P.A. Volden, P.S. Stewart and A.K. Camper. 2009. Escherichia coli O157:H7 requires colonizing partner to adhere and persist in a capillary flow cell. Environ. Sci. Technol. 43(6): 2105–2111. Nocker, A., A. Mazza, L. Masson, A.K. Camper and R. Brousseau. 2009. Selective detection of live bacteria combining propidium monoazide sample treatment with microarray detection. J. Microbiol. Methods 76:253-261 Leach, L.H., P. Zhang, T.M. LaPara, R.M. Hozalski and A.K. Camper. 2009. Detection and enumeration of haloacetic acid degrading bacteria in drinking water distribution systems using dehalogenase genes. Applied Microbiology. 107(3):978–988 Zhang, P., L. H. Leach, A.K. Camper, E.H. Goslan, S. A. Parson, Y.F. Xie, R.M. Hozalski and T.M. LaPara. 2009. Accepted. Isolation and characterization of novel haloacetic acid-degrading bacteria from drinking water. FEMS Microbiology Letters.

Anne K. Camper, Ph. D

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Updated: 8/16/08


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