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Contact Info:

Dr. Theo Dreher, Chair
Mary Fulton, Dept. Manager
Department of Microbiology
Nash Hall 220
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

Congratulations to Connor Driscoll who won the best poster award at the joint Oregon Lakes Association/Washington State Lake Protection Association conference held October 16-18 in Vancouver, Washington. His poster was entitled, "Investigating the Role of Viruses in Microcystis aeruginosa Bloom Collapse."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

( Live Science ) "They are everywhere, from the surface down to the bottom, from pole to pole," said Stephen Giovannoni , Professor of Microbiology at Oregon State University, adding that SAR11 microbes are most abundant in the warm waters of ocean gyres, or rotating currents, where they can account[...]Read more

An undergraduate researcher in Microbiology searches for the key to long life. At 7 a.m., Minhazur Sarker is the first person to arrive in Tory Hagen’s lab on the third floor of the Linus Pauling Science Center. Hagen, a renowned researcher with the Linus Pauling Institute, studies the human healthspan.[...]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

Health Professions Fair
Apr 22 2014

MB Students:  Are you interested in a career in health care?  Don’t miss the Health Professions Fair on Tuesday, April 22nd!

Admissions representatives from over 50 health professions schools in Oregon and across the country[...] Read more

Bridging Genes to Ecosystems
May 18 2014 to May 23 2014

This spring, the first ever Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting (JASM) will be held in Portland, Oregon on May 18-23 (2014).  The meeting will bring together for the first time four societies:  SFS (Society for Freshwater Science, formerly NABS[...] Read more

Winter 2014 Colloquium

Michael Kent Lab, "Little Fish/Big Fish:  Health Issues in Zebrafish and Adult Chinook Salmon"; Mondays, beginning January 13, 2014.Read more

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.




Aug 19, 2013

This Irishman got a bit too much sun the other day. Still, what do you expect when you’re marooned on a tropical atoll? We traveled to this atoll, Tetiaroa, to get a bit of outside perspective on the viruses in the region. Since Jerome is comparing viruses of different sub-habitats within Mo’orea, it will be [...] Read full story.