Kristine Lowe, Ph.D.

Kristine Lowe, Ph.D.Kristine Lowe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
SCI 2.332
Office: (956) 665-8749
Research Field
kristine.Lowe@utrgv.edu

Office Hours

Courses

Microbial Ecology (BIOL4424/5424)
Environmental Biology (BIOL2406)
History of Biology (BIOL6322)

Education

Ph.D. Applied Biology. Georgia Institute of Technology
M.S. Environmental Biology. Governors State University. Illinois.
B.S. Ecology, Ethology and Evolution. University of Illinois.

Areas of Interest

Metal-reducing bacteria, metal-oxidizing bacteria, sediment microorganisms, metal remediation, plant-microbe interactions.

Research

There are currently 3 research projects ongoing in my lab:

1) We are currently working on an interdisciplinary study of marine metal accumulating sea grasses (Thalassia sp.) in the Laguna Madre, a large salt water lagoon separating South Padre Island from the Texas coast. Sea grass plants in the Laguna Madre accumulate high levels of manganese and copper metal in their vegetative parts; however, the levels of metal bioaccumulated by the sea grass are several orders of magnitude higher than the surrounding seawater. We hypothesize that microorganisms in the lagoon sediment are converting minerals containing manganese and copper into bioavailable forms that are taken up by the plants through their roots. We are currently conducting an ecological survey of the sediment microorganisms to determine the density, distribution, and identity of manganese and copper-related organisms.

2) We are currently examining the abundance of arsenic bacteria in the Rio Grand River. Arsenic exists primarily in 2 forms in the environment: a less toxic, immobile form known as arsenate (AsV) and a more toxic, cancer-causing, water-soluble form called arsenite (As III). Water from the Rio Grande River is used for agricultural irrigation and there is a concern that arsenic may begin to accumulate on farmlands irrigated with Rio Grande River water. Anaerobic bacteria in the river sediment may potentially convert arsenate into arsenite. We are using arsenate-reducing bacteria isolated from the Rio Grande River to estimate the rate of bacterial arsenic conversion in this and other riparian environments.

3) Many microorganisms can tolerate high levels of toxic metals in the environment because they possess plasmid-mediated resistance mechanisms. We are currently using enrichment cultures to isolate bacteria from the Rio Grande River and the Laguna Madre, which can tolerate high levels of chromium, copper and nickel, and determine whether they possess naturally-occurring plasmids for metal resistance.


Most Recent Publications

Curriculum Vitae