Associate Professor

University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 757000
228 West Ridge Research Building
Fairbanks, AK 99775
● Microbiology ● Ecology
   (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence)
●  Institute of Arctic Biology (UAF)
●  Department of Biology and Wildlife (UAF)
● Affiliate faculty Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (UAF)
● Affiliate faculty Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (UAF)
● Environmental Microbiology
● Bioremediation
● Environmental Contaminants
● Microbial Ecology
● Ph.D. Microbiology (2003) University of Oklahoma
●  M.S. Botany (1997) University of Oklahoma
● B.F.A. Modern Dance, Minor in Botany (1994) University of Oklahoma   
Additional Training
- NSF Postdoctoral Fellow & Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University (2003-2006)
- NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, NERC Center for Ecology and Hydrology, Oxford, U.K. (2004)
- E.U – U.S. Short Course in Molecular Biology for the Environment, Madrid, Spain (2003)
- NASA Space Life Sciences Training Program (1994, Kennedy Space Center)
Research overview
Our research focuses on microbial processes important to environmental quality, including biodegradation of pollutants in soil and in marine environments and ecosystem carbon cycling processes.
Current research projects
● Rhizosphere bioremediation of soil contaminants (diesel, crude oil, polychlorinated biphenyls -PCBs)
●  Biodegradation and toxicity of dispersed oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas
●  Methane oxidation in arctic and subarctic lakes
● Decomposition of cellulose and lignocellulose in boreal forest soil
● Fiber/lignocellulose digestion in the muskox rumen
Current students
Mary-Cathrine Leewis (Ph.D.)
Kelly McFarlin (Ph.D.)
Robert Burgess (M.S.)
Christopher Kasanke (Undergraduate)
Carl Richmond (Undergraduate)
Ruo He, Ph.D.
Emilio Ungerfeld, Ph.D.
Past students
Kelsie Stone (M.S. Biology, 2009)
Krista Katalenich (M.A. Northern Studies, 2009)
Heather Slater (M.S. Environmental Chemistry, 2010)
Kelly McFarlin (M.S. Environmental Engineering,  2010)
Catherine Glover (Undergraduate)
John Cable (Undergraduate)
Elizabeth Matlock (Undergraduate, Swarthmore College)
Visiting international students and scholars
Ondrej Uhlik (Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague, Czech Republic)
Petr Stursa (Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague, Czech Republic)
Martina Stursova (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)
Publications (in chronological order)
1.     K. Demnerova, M. Mackova, P. Kucerova, M.B. Leigh H. Novakova, J. Burkhard and T. Macek. 2000. Practical use of bioremediation for PCB removal from contaminated soil. Focus on Biotechnology, (M. Hofman and J. Anne, series eds.), Vol 3, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.
2.     Leigh, M.B. , J.S. Fletcher, D.P. Nagle, M. Mackova and T. Macek. Vegetation and Fungi at Czech PCB-Contaminated Sites as Bioremediation Candidates. In Phytoremediation, Wetlands and Sediments, the Sixth International In Situ and On-Site Bioremediation Symposium, San Diego, Calif., June 4-7, 2001; Leeson, A., Foote, E. A.,  Banks, M. K., Magar, V.,  Eds.  Battelle Press: Columbus, Ohio. p 61-68.
3.     Leigh, M.B., J.S. Fletcher, X. Fu and F.J. Schmitz. 2002. Root turnover: an important source of microbial substrates in rhizosphere remediation of recalcitrant contaminants. Environmental Science and Technology36:1579-1583. [PMID: 11999069]
4.     Olson, P.E., T. Wong, M.B. Leigh and J.S. Fletcher. 2003. Allometric modeling of plant root growth and its application in rhizosphere remediation of soil contaminants. Environmental Science and Technology 37:638-643. [PMID: 12630483]
5.     Manefield, M., R. Griffiths, M.B. Leigh, R. Fisher and A. Whiteley. 2005. Functional and compositional comparison of two activated sludge communities remediating coke effluent. Environmental Microbiology 7(5)715-722. [PMID: 15819853]
6.     Leigh, M.B., P. Prouzova, M. Mackova, T. Macek, D.P. Nagle and J.S. Fletcher. 2006. Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-degrading bacteria associated with trees in a PCB contaminated site. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 72(4):2331-2342. [PMID: 16597927]
7.     Leigh, M.B. 2006. Methods for rhizoremediation research, p. 32-55. In Phytoremediation and Rhizoremediation, M. Mackova, T. Macek and D. Dowling (ed.), Focus on Biotechnology, vol. 9A, Springer, Berlin.
8.     Wu, W.-M., J. Carley, J. Luo, M. A. Ginder-Vogel, E. Cardenas, M.B. Leigh, C. Hwang, S.D. Kelley, C. Ruan, L. Wu, T. Gentry, K. Lowe, T. Melhorn, S. Carroll, M.W. Fields, B. Gu, D. Watson, K.M. Kemner, T.L. Marsh, J.M. Tiedje, J. Zhou, S. Fendorf, P.K. Kitanidis, P.M. Jardine and C.S. Criddle. 2007. In situ bioreduction of Uranium (VI) to submicromolar levels and reoxidation by dissolved oxygen. Environmental Science & Technology 41:5716-5723. [PMID: 17874778]
9.     Leigh, M.B., V.H. Pellizari, O. Uhlik, R. Sutka, J. Rodrigues, N.E. Ostrom, J. Zhou and J.M. Tiedje. 2007. Biphenyl-utilizing bacteria and their functional genes in a pine root zone contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). ISME Journal 1:134-148. [PMID: 18043623]
10. Filler, D.M., D. Van Stempvoort and M.B. Leigh. 2008. Remediation of frozen ground contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons: feasibility and limits. Permafrost Soils. R. Margesin (Ed.). Springer-Verlag. p 279-302.
11.  M. Saleem, H. Brim, S. Hussain, M. Arshad, M. B. Leighand Zia-ul-hassan. 2008. Perspectives on microbial cell surface display in bioremediation. Biotechnology Advances. 26: 151–16. [PMID: 18068937]
12.    *O. Uhlik, K. Francová, M. Mackova, M. B. Leigh and T. Macek. 2008. New approaches in microbial population analysis: Stable isotope probing (SIP) for the detection of active microorganisms active in xenobiotic degradation. Chemicke Listy 102:474−479.
13.    Cardenas, E., M.B. Leigh, W.-M. Wu, J. Carley, C. Criddle, T.L. Marsh and J.M. Tiedje. 2008. Microbial communities in contaminated sediments, associated with bioremediation of uranium to submicromolar levels. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 74(12):3718-29 [PMID: 18456853]
14.   Wooller MJ, Ruppel C, Pohlman JW, Leigh MB, Heintz M. 2009. Permafrost gas hydrates and climate change: Lake-based seep studies on the Alaskan north slope. Fire in the Ice 4: 6-9.
15.   *Uhlik, O., K. Jecna, M. B. Leigh, M. Mackova, T. Macek. 2009. DNA-based stable-isotope probing: a link between community structure and function. Science of the Total Environment 407(12):3611-9.
16.   Green, S.J., Leigh, M.B. and Neufeld, J.D. 2009. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) for microbial community analysis. Pages 4137-4158 in: Timmis, K.N. (Ed) Microbiology of Hydrocarbons, Oils, Lipids, and Derived Compounds. Springer (Heidelberg, Germany).
17.   Leigh, M.B., D.L. Taylor and J. Neufeld. 2009. Clone libraries of ribosomal RNA gene sequences for characterization of bacterial and fungal communities. Pages 3969-3993 in: Timmis, K.N. (Ed) Microbiology of Hydrocarbons, Oils, Lipids, and Derived Compounds. Springer (Heidelberg, Germany).
18.   Larsen, T., D.L. Taylor, M.B. Leigh and D.M. O’Brien. 2009. Stable isotope fingerprinting: a novel method for identifying plant, fungal or bacterial origins of amino acids. Ecology 90:3526-3535. [PMID: 20120819]
19.   Thomas, S.H., R.A. Sanford, B.K. Amos, M.B. Leigh, E. Cardenas and F.E. Loffler. 2010. Unique ecophysiology among U(VI)-reducing bacteria as revealed by evaluation of oxygen metabolism in Anaeromyxobacter dehalogenans strain 2CP-C. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76:176-83. [ PMID: 19897758 ]
20.   Taylor, DL, IC Herriott, KE Stone, JW McFarland, MG Booth & MB Leigh. 2010. Structure and resilience of fungal communities in Alaskan boreal forest soils. Can. J. For. Res. 40:1288-1301.
21.   Cardenas, E, W.-M Wu, MB Leigh, J Carley, S Carroll, T Gentry, J Luo, D Watson, B Gu, M Ginder-Vogel, PK Kitanidis, PM Jardine, J Zhou, CS Criddle, TL Marsh & JM Tiedje. 2010. Significant Association between Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria and Uranium-Reducing Microbial Communities as Revealed by a Combined Massively Parallel Sequencing-Indicator Species Approach. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 76: 6778-6786. [PMID: 20729318]
22.   Slater, H ., T. Gouin & M.B. Leigh. 2011. Assessing the potential for rhizoremediation of PCB contaminated soils in northern regions using native tree species. Chemosphere 84:199-206. [PMID: 21596420]
23.   Qi M, Wang P, O'Toole N, Barboza PS, **Ungerfeld E, M.B. Leigh, L.B. Selinger, G. Butler, A. Tsang, T.A. McAllister, R.J. Forster. 2011. Snapshot of the Eukaryotic Gene Expression in Muskoxen Rumen—A Metatranscriptomic Approach. PLoS ONE 6(5): e20521. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020521 [PMID: 21655220]
24.   King, M.G., C. M. Catranis, J. A. Soria and M. B. Leigh. Phytochemical and Toxicological Analysis of Albizia falcataria Sawdust. Submitted to International Wood Products Journal. In press.  
25.  Montazeri, N., A. Oliveira, B. Himelbloom, M.B. Leigh, and C. Crapo. Chemical Characterization of Commercially Refined Liquid Smokes. Submitted to Food Science & Nutrition. In press
26.   Uhlik, O., Leewis, M.C., Strejcek, M., Musilova, L., Leigh, M.B., Macek, T. 2012. Stable isotope probing in the metagenomics era: a bridge towards improved bioremediation. Biotechnology Advances. In Press. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2012.09.003. [PMID: 23022353]
27.  Montazeri, N., B. Himelbloom, A. Oliveira, M.B. Leigh, and C. Crapo.Refined liquid smoke: a potential antilisterial additive to cold-smoked sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Journal of Food Protection. In Press
28.   He, R. M. J. Wooller, J. W. Pohlman, C. Catranis, J. Quensen, J. M. Tiedje, M. B. Leigh. 2012. Identification of functionally active aerobic methanotrophs in sediments from an arctic lake using stable isotope probing. Environmental Microbiology 14(6):1403-1419. [PMID: 22429394]
29.   He, R. M. J. Wooller, J. W. Pohlman, J. Quensen, J. M. Tiedje, M. B. Leigh. 2012. Diversity of active aerobic methanotrophs along depth profiles of arctic and subarctic lake water column and sediments. The ISME Journal. doi:10.1038/ismej.2012.34 [PMID: 22592821]
30.   He, R. M. J. Wooller, J. W. Pohlman, J. Quensen, J. M. Tiedje, M. B. Leigh. 2012. Shifts in identity and activity of methanotrophs in arctic lake sediments in response to temperature changes. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 78(13):4715-4723 [PMID: 22522690]
31.   Wang, P., M. Qi, P. Barboza, M.B. Leigh, E. Ungerfeld**, L.B. Salinger, T. A. McAllister, R. J. Forster. 2011. Isolation of high-quality total RNA from rumen anaerobic bacteria and fungi, and subsequent detection of glycoside hydrolases. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 57:590-598 [PMID: 21774582]
32.   Leigh, MB, K Katalenich, C Hardy, & P Kohler. 2011. Climate change and creative expression. In North by 2010. H Eicken & A Lovecraft (Eds.). Univ. Alaska Press
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