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Contact Info:

Dr. Theo Dreher, Chair
Mary Fulton, Dept. Manager
Department of Microbiology
Nash Hall 226
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331

Phone: 541 737 4441

The Vega-Thurber Lab is interested in the viruses, bacteria, and other microbes that pose a pathogenic threat to coral reefs.
Graduate student Zach Landry uses a combination of optical trapping and microfluidics to acquire single-cell genomes from previously uncultured microbial species living in the deep ocean.
Bacteria have been communicating with each other for millions of years. Brett Mellbye and other members of Martin Schuster's lab are here to listen.
Graduate student with Dr. Theo Dreher, Connor Driscoll, is searching for viruses of freshwater harmful algal blooms.

Welcome to the Department of Microbiology

Our mission is to educate students and conduct research across the breadth of modern microbiology. Microbiology is the study of small organisms, mostly microscopic, including bacteria, archaea, small eukaryotes including phytoplankton, zooplankton, parasites and fungi, and viruses. Future Microbiologists will help to control emerging and reemerging infectious diseases; 
harness microbes to produce green chemicals or to convert biowaste to energy; learn the environmental roles of the uncultured bacterial and archaeal majority on Earth; 
and decipher the functions of the many unique genes found in prokaryotic and bacteriophage genomes.

Microbes of various types are everywhere on Earth, and they impact our lives and our environment in profound ways. Many cause disease, and the study of pathogenic microbes and host immunity systems is a cornerstone of medicine and public health; since 1910, one-third of Nobel Prizes in medicine and physiology have been awarded to microbiologists. But many microbes are beneficial, either through mutualistic interactions with their host animal or plant, or through their contributions to nutrient cycling and genetic evolution in the environment.  Microbes occupy an incredible range of habitats in the environment, from the oceans and soils to plant leaf surfaces, and including such inhospitable sites as deep-sea rock microfissures, and locales high in salt, temperature, and pressure.

Undergraduate Studies

Undergraduates in Micro

We offer the only B.S. degree in Microbiology in Oregon, training over 300 majors. The Microbiology Program at OSU offers courses that study the diverse properties and roles of microbes with respect to human and environmental health. A selection of upper level courses lets students choose to emphasize different specialties, with strong representation of both pathogenic microbiology and environmental microbiology. The hands-on training with laboratory courses and opportunities for lab teaching assistantships and undergraduate research results in readily employable graduates. The Microbiology Students Association provides experiential opportunities such as field trips and demonstrations to K-12 students at career fairs or in local classrooms.

Micro News

Dr. Janine Trempy , Professor in Microbiology, and recently Associate Dean of the College of Science for 11 years; was awarded the Richard M. Bressler Senior Faculty Teaching Award in recognition of her longtime service and major commitment to undergraduate education. Students have nothing but praise for her classes and[...]Read more

Even Health Corals Have Viruses features the NSF-funded research of microbiologist Rebecca Vega-Thurber and her team. You may also read about this research and watch a video on Science 360 News Service or the NSF Facebook page. Coral disease is a major contributor to the decline of tropical reefs, and[...]Read more

The JOHN L FRYER SALMON DISEASE LAB recently received funding for a facility upgrade. The funds (committed by the Sustainability Office, Research Office, College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Science, and Department of Microbiology) will supply heated water between 12.8 and 24°C to all experimental tanks, allowing research on warmwater[...]Read more

Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber, Microbiology, Oregon State University, has discovered that after 3 years of exposing a section of coral reef to contaminants ordinarily found in sewage, learned that it took less than a year for the damage to be undone. "What's exciting about this research is the clear experimental[...]Read more

Coral White Plague Epidemic Could be Caused by Virus: LiveScience article by Joseph Castro Based on : Potential Role of Viruses in White Plague Coral Disease by Nitzan Soffer, Marilyn E Brandt, Adrienne MS Correa, Tyler B Smith and Rebecca Vega Thurber; ISME Journal , October 2013 The Caribbean Sea[...]Read more

Graduate Studies

Graduates in Micro

The Microbiology Program provides graduate training leading towards PhD and MS degrees. The Program supports broad interests in microbiology, including environmental and pathogenic microbiology, with studies that encompass a spectrum of approaches from the ecological and organismal to the molecular genetic and biochemical. Faculty from several colleges and departments participate as major advisors.


Upcoming Events

ISAAH Symposium

ISAAH, the International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health will be held in Portland, Oregon on August 31 to September 4, 2013.  Please contact Dr. Jerri Bartholomew for further information.Read more

Give Too


We conduct research on a broad range of subjects covering bacteria, viruses and parasites, and their roles in the health of the environment, humans, animals and plants. We have strong representation in bioinformatics-guided research, marine and freshwater microbiology, and fish health studies. Research Highlights: Distinguished Professor Stephen Giovannoni's studies have identified the SAR11 group as the most abundant open ocean bacteria; SAR11 member Pelagibacter has a streamlined genome and surprising auxotrophic dependencies on nutrient forms provided by other organisms. Dr. Giovannoni was the 2012 recipient of distinguished awards from the American Society for Microbiology and International Society for Microbial EcologyDr. Jerri Bartholomew's research has identified infection by myxozoan parasites as a major stressor on Klamath River Chinook salmon as part of her studies on disease threats to native fish runs. Distinguished Professor Luiz Bermudez studies pathogenicity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which remains a vexing problem in the developing world. Dr. Peter Bottomley studies nitrogen cycling in soils, including determining the roles of bacteria and archaea.


The Cnidae Gritty Blog, Vega Thurber Lab


Jul 14, 2014

Australia. Famous for its backwards-spinning drains, boxing kangaroos, deadly everything, and lost or forgetful fish, the nation/continent has so much more to it. Although I’ve come here to study a particular aspect of a specific animal, I don’t intend to … Continue reading  Read full story.

SABOR Blog, Halsey Lab

planktonStarting July 2014, scientists with NASA’s Ship-Aircraft Bio-Optical Research (SABOR) experiment will make observations from ship and aircraft off the U.S. Atlantic Coast aimed at advancing the technology needed to measure microscopic plankton in the ocean from space. For the next three weeks, follow SABOR researchers as they work toward finding out how and why plankton are changing around the planet, and where the carbon associated with plankton goes. Plankton play an important part of the climate system and deliver oxygen to the atmosphere, absorb carbon dioxide, and form the base of the marine food chain.[...]Read More