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Esther Angert



157B Wing Hall
(607) 254-4778

Esther Angert earned a B.S. in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her graduate training was in the laboratory of Dr. Norman Pace at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, where she earned her Ph.D. She was Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. Richard Losick at Harvard University before joining the Cornell University faculty in the Department of Microbiology.

Research Focus

<i>Epulopiscium</i> spp. are some of the largest known bacteria. Individuals can reach lengths in excess of 0.6 mm; large enough to be seen with the unaided eye. Another unusual feature of this group of bacteria is the manner in which they reproduce. While most bacteria simply divide into two equivalent daughter cells, an <i>Epulopiscium</i> cell can produce multiple offspring internally. Research in the Angert Lab focuses on characterizing cellular modifications that support large cell size in a bacterium. We are also working toward identifying the molecular mechanisms involved in internal offspring formation and development. We are interested in determining how reproductive strategy impacts the symbiotic relationship of intestinal bacteria and their vertebrate host. <i>Epulopiscium</i> spp. are intestinal symbionts of certain species of tropical marine fish of the surgeonfish family. A deeper understanding of the role of these intestinal symbionts will provide a deeper appreciation for the nutritional ecology of key herbivores on the endangered and fragile coral reefs found in low-nutrient topical seas.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Members of the Angert Lab participate in a number of outreach programs to share our enthusiasm and ideas about biology to K-12 students and their teachers.

In addition, we find that our study organisms, Epulopiscium spp., are exciting models for conveying basic concepts of microbial biology and diversity. These cells are visually appealing and can be seen with the unaided eye. The fact that Epulopiscium spp. are so large, but not pathogenic, makes them a good representative of the microbial world not only for biology students but for the general public as well. To facilitate information flow, a website featuring Epulopiscium has been established. Students at all levels are involved in the development and maintenance of the site. This project instills in students the responsibility of all researchers to disseminate information to the public and it will enhance the students' ability to communicate their work and its significance to a diverse audience. We're also studying the ecology of these intestinal microbes. They are found only in the intestinal tract of surgeonfish. While the importance of herbivores, such as surgeonfish, in carbon cycling within shallow, tropical reef systems is well recognized, the role of intestinal biota in these processes is not well appreciated. Epulopiscium spp. provide an unequaled system for studying the coevolution and population biology of a prominent segment of the symbiotic intestinal biota of key coral reef herbivores.

Teaching Focus

With colleagues in Microbiology, Prof. Angert has developed an undergraduate course in microbiology for non-life science majors, helped revise the advanced microbiology laboratory course and update the General Microbiology Lecture course BioMi2900. All courses incorporate inquiry-based activities to reinforce key concepts in biology. She developed a communications course for graduate students and launched a departmental journal club.

Dr. Angert participates in a number of courses on campus by providing guest lectures on symbiosis, and cell biology.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications