Research in marine and freshwater microbiology


Steven W. Wilhelm 

Kenneth and Blaire Mossman Professor

Department of Microbiology


Office: 865-974-0665    Labs: 865-974-0682  /  865-974-4014




  • Viral impacts on Aquatic Food Webs

  • Developing better models for marine biogeochemical cycles

  • Understanding the causes of Microcystis blooms  

  • Giant viruses in marine systems

  • incorporating viruses and microbes into climate change models  

  • Toxic cyanobacteria in aquatic systems

  • quantitative molecular tools for microbial ecology 

  • Microbial genetics, diversity and physiology


PEOPLE               PROJECTS               PUBLICATIONS


Lab publication metrics:   GOOGLE SCHOLAR  |  RESEARCH GATE



Toxic cyanobacterial bloom in Lake Taihu October 2014

Scientists and crew work to clear a spot in the ice to sample - Lake Erie Feb 2007

The Aquatic Microbial Ecology Research Group (aka the 6th floor) - Aug 2014

Feb 2017   A series of new papers from the lab have just been published!
May 2017   Our new paper on genomics with individual virus particles is out at ISME J.  You can read about it in Tennessee Today.


Feb 2017   Dr Wilhelm was interviewed for an article in Environmental Health Perspectives
May 2017   Our collaboration on the Toledo water shutdown - analyzing Microcystis physiology - is gaining interest due to the massive virus infection that occurred.


 The main home for the lab is the Department of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee.  Most students are affiliated with this department.    Other departments we are affiliated with:

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology        UTK/ORNL Program in Genome Science and Technology         Earth & Planetary Sciences

Fall 2002



Spring 2015


Fall 2016


GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.... former graduate students

Mohammad Moniruzzaman Molecular and ecological aspects of interactions between Aureococcus anophagefferens and its giant virus (PhD. 2016)

Morgan Steffen 

Systems biology of Microcystis blooms (Ph.D. 2014)

Shafer Belisle 

Urea as a nutrient source for Lake Erie blooms (M. Sc. 2014)

Tiana Pimentel 

Environmental constraints on cyanomyophage in the Pacific Ocean (MSc 2013)

Claire Campbell

The effects of nutrient limition and cyanophage on heterotrophic microbial diversity (M.Sc. 2012)

Audrey Matteson

Quantification and ecological perspectives on cyanophage and aquatic viruses (Ph.D. 2011)

Matthew Saxton   

Constraints on primary production in Lake Erie (Ph.D. 2011)

Star Loar  

Seasonal Variation in Lake Erie Picoplankton (M.Sc. 2009)

Janet Rowe 

Ecological aspects of viruses in marine systems (Ph.D. 2008)

Johanna Rinta-Kanto

Biogeography and genetic diversity of toxin producing cyanobacteria in a Laurentian Great Lake (PhD. 2006)

Leo Poorvin

The role of viruses in Fe cycling in the World's oceans (Ph.D. 2005)

Julie L. Higgins

Virus dynamics in high nutrient - low chlorophyll marine surface waters (M.Sc. 2005)

Cecile E. Mioni

Using a bioluminescent bacterial bioreporter to assess iron bioavailability in the ocean (Ph.D. 2004)

Melanie Eldridge

The effects of Fe on plankton in HNLC regions of the world's oceans (Ph.D. 2004)

Amanda L. Dean

The dynamics, distribution, and activity of viruses in Lake Erie (M.Sc. 2004)

Shannon Pedigo-Eftland

The effects of iron on growth and physiology of the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa (M.Sc. 2004)

Johanna Rinta-Kanto

The effects of viral size class enrichments on microbial communities in marine systems   (M.Sc. 2001)


For information concerning strains, isolates or genomic constructs, please contact Professor Wilhelm

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