Judy Wall, PhD

Photo of Judy Wall, PhD

Biochemistry

Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Professor
Curator's Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry
Joint Curators' Professor of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology

573-882-8726

Profile

Have you ever come across a stagnant pool that smelled like rotten eggs when you disturbed it? Or, have you wondered why iron pipes corrode in soil? Both the smell and the corrosion are caused by the sulfate-reducing bacteria that derive energy not from oxygen, but from sulfate, which is reduced to hydrogen sulfide. Do these bacteria only cause problems? Probably not, because we believe they can assist bioremediation, the destruction of toxic contaminants in the environment. Since oxygen kills these bacteria, all work with them must be carried out in the absence of air. Obviously, none but the most committed (stubborn) would work with them. We are investigating the genetics and metabolism of hydrogen, iron, and sulfate in these bacteria. How do they corrode iron? Metallic iron can serve as reductant and the Fe2+ produced is water soluble, until it is irrevocably precipitated by the sulfide ions also produced by the bacteria. Are the bacteria caught in a vicious cycle of removing iron that they need for growth, by the sulfide that is produced during growth? Do they need an iron acquisition system to grow? The laboratory is also looking at the potential application of these bacteria to bioremediation of heavy metal contaminated environments. In particular their ability to change the solubility of toxic metals that may make the metals less biologically available. Our studies abound with Southerns, cloning, PCRs, transposons, and problems. What we need now is a little intelligent help in understanding these fascinating and challenging organisms.

Academic Information

Professor
Curator's Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry
Joint Curators' Professor of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology

Office

214 Schweitzer Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
United States

P. 573-882-8726

Research Interests

  • Bacterial Genetics
  • Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • Bioinformatics/ Systems Biology
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetics
  • Bacteriology
  • Biochemistry

Areas of Expertise

  • Genetics of uranium reduction by sulfate-reducing bacteria

Education & Training

Post-Graduate School

1974, PhD, Duke University

Publications