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Douglas Dennis

Douglas Dennis - Professordennis-douglas.jpg
Program/Dept.: Biology & Chemistry
Degrees, Licensures and Certifications: B.S., Biology, Adrian College; Ph.D., Microbiology, University of Tennessee
Research Interests: Analysis of Polyhydroxyalkanoate (biodegradable plastic) Synthesis in Bacteria


Research in the Dennis lab focuses on the synthesis and structure of polyhydroxyalkanoate inclusions in bacteria. Polyhydroxyalkanoates are of interest because they can be extracted from bacterial cells and formed into biodegradable plastic. In fact, a PHA production facility is now being built in Iowa and biodegradable plastic items, such as shampoo bottles, should start being seen on grocery store shelves in a year or two. The purpose of the research being conducted at MSU is to determine the molecular bases for the synthesis of the inclusions. Molecular and genetic techniques are employed to answer these questions. A second line of questioning being asked is how the proteins provide structure for the inclusion. This question is investigated using atomic force microscopy, a relatively new technology that allows researchers to image objects as small as molecules. The anticipated result is an understanding of polyhydroxyalkanoate inclusion biogenesis that may aid in the development of more efficient biodegradable plastic production.


Selected Publications

  • Dennis, D., V. Sein*, E. Martinez*, and B. Augstine. 2008 PhaP Is Involved in the formation of a network on the surface of polyhydroxyalkanoate Inclusions in Cupriavidus necator H16. J. Bacteriology 190:555-563. 
  • Dennis, D., C. Leibig*, T. Holley*, K.S. Thomas*, A Khosla*, D. Wilson*, and B. Augustine. 2006 Preliminary analysis of polyhydroxyalkanoate inclusions using atomic force microscopy. FEMS Micro. Lett. 226:113-119. 
  • Valentin, H. and D. Dennis. 1997 Production of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-4-hydroxybutyrate) in recombinant Escherichia coli grown on glucose. J. Biotechnology 58:33-38. 
  • Poireir, Y., D. Dennis, C. Nawrath, and C. Somerville. 1993 Progress toward biologically produced biodegradable plastics. Advanced Materials(Weinheim) 5:11 30-37. 
  • Slater, S.C., T. Gallagher and D. Dennis. 1993 Production of poly-(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) in a recombinant Escherichia coli strain. Appl. Env. Microbiol. 58:1089-1094. 
  • Poirier, Y., D. Dennis, K. Klomparens, and C. Somerville. 1992 Polyhydroxybutyrate, a Biodegradable Thermoplastic, Produced in Transgenic Plants. Science 256:520-523. 
  • Slater, S.C., W. Voige and D. Dennis. 1988 Cloning and expression in Escherichia coli of the Alcaligenes eutrophus H16 poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate biosynthetic pathway. J. Bacteriology 170:4431-4436. 


305 Lappin Hall