Professor; and Department Chair
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.
Epulopiscium 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 Epulopiscium 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. Epulopiscium 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.
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.
- Arroyo, F. A., Pawlowska, T. E., Choat, J. H., Clements, K. D., & Angert, E. R. (2019). Recombination contributes to population diversification in the polyploid intestinal symbiont Epulopiscium sp. type B. The ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology. 13:1084–1097.
- Levin, P. A., & Angert, E. R. (2015). Small but Mighty: Cell Size and Bacteria. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. 7.
- Clements, K. D., Angert, E. R., Montgomery, W. L., & Choat, J. H. (2014). Intestinal microbiota in fishes: what’s known, and what’s not. Molecular Ecology. 23:1891-1898.
- Hutchison, E. A., Miller, D. A., & Angert, E. R. (2014). Sporulation in Bacteria: Beyond the Standard Model. Microbiol Spectr.
- Angert, E. R. (2012). DNA Replication and Genomic Architecture of Very Large Bacteria. Annual Review of Microbiology. 66:197-212.
- Wu, S., Wang, G., Angert, E. R., Wang, W., Li, W., & Zou, H. (2012). Composition, diversity, and origin of the bacterial community in grass carp intestine. PLOS One. 7:e30440.
- Miller, D. A., Suen, G., Bruce, D., Copeland, A., Cheng, J. F., Detter, C., Goodwin, L. A., Han, C. S., Hauser, L. J., Land, M. L., Lapidus, A., Lucus, S., Meincke, L., Pitluck, S., Tapia, R., Teshima, H., Woyke, T., Fox, B. G., Angert, E. R., & Currie, C. R. (2011). Complete genome sequence of the cellulose-degrading bacterium Cellulosilyticum lentocellum. Journal of Bacteriology. 193:2357-2358.
- Miller, D. A., Choat, J. H., Clements, K. D., & Angert, E. R. (2011). The spoIIE homolog of Epulopiscium sp. type B is expressed early in intracellular offspring development. Journal of Bacteriology. 193:2642-2646.
- Frey, J. C., Pell, A. N., Berthiaume, R., Lapierre, H., Lee, S., Ha, J. K., Mendell, J. E., & Angert, E. R. (2010). Comparative studies of microbial populations in the rumen, duodenum, ileum and faeces of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 108:1982-1993.
- Park, D., Finlay, J. A., Ward, R. J., Weinman, C. J., Krishnan, S., Paik, M., Sohn, K. E., Callow, M. E., Callow, J. A., Handlin, D. L., Willis, C. L., Fischer, D. A., Angert, E. R., Kramer , E. J., & Ober, C. K. (2010). Antimicrobial behavior of semifluorinated-quaternized triblock copolymers against airborne and marine microorganisms. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 2:703-711.