Research in marine and freshwater microbial ecology


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

  • Real time 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

Oct 2014   Professor Wilhelm was recently honored with the Kenneth and Blaire Mossman Professorship
Nov 2014   The Department of Microbiology announces up to 10 graduate assistantships are available for Fall 2015
Jan 2015   The Department of Microbiology is searching for a new Head of Department.
Jan 2015   Congratulations to the NIMBioS Ocean Virus working group on their accepted paper at The ISME Journal
Apr 2015   Congratulation to Mohammad Moniruzzaman on his Cokkinias Award for outstanding graduate research
May 2015   The lab is happy to welcome Dr Xiangming Tang and Dr Guijun Yang. They will  spend the next year doing research in Knoxville
Nov 2015   Professor Wilhelm is excited to be named amongst the inaugural class of ASLO Fellows


Jan 2014   Check out Jesse Weber's piece on the Taihu research project in Quest
Apr 2014    Jesse Weber has a feature piece in the College of Arts & Sciences Newsletter - Higher Ground
Aug 2014   Dr Wilhelm was interviewed for an article in Live Science
Oct 2014   Our letter in SCIENCE with collaborators was just published
Apr 2015   Dr Wilhelm was featured in the Bowling Green State University news
Apr 2015   Our Dimensions Project in China was featured in a NSF press release

           See Sarah Farnsley's fact sheets for K-5, middle school and secondary school educators on cyanobacteria.


 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


Dr Wilhelm is also the PI of the Department of Microbiology's NSF-Funded REU: Microbial community interactions and Functions

Fall 2002

Summer 2011


Spring 2015


GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.... former graduate students


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)

CÚcile 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)



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