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Denise Akob

Research Microbiologist

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Short Biography

Dr. Denise M. Akob is a geomicrobiologist whose research focuses on understanding how microorganisms impact their environment and biogeochemical cycles and in turn, how an environment impacts microorganisms. She investigates both contaminated and pristine environments. Her research focuses primarily on understanding microbial impacts on Cold War Biogeochemistry (uranium and chlorinated solvent contamination) and energy production (either by mitigating degradation of contaminants (from hydraulic fracturing or oil spills) or by enhancing natural gas production)). 

Dr. Akob received her undergraduate degree in Biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.  She completed her PhD in Biogeochemical Oceanography from Florida State University in 2008 and was a post-doctoral research fellow at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany from 2008-2012. Dr. Akob joined the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Research Program in 2012. For more information please visit the Reston Microbiology Lab website.

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Bohu, T., D.M. Akob, M. Abratis, C.S. Lazar, and K. Küsel. Biological low pH Mn(II) oxidation in a manganese deposit influenced by acidic heavy metal-rich groundwater. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, in press, available online ahead of print doi:10.1128/AEM.03844-15 (IP-073478).

Kassotis, C.D., L.R. Iwanowicz, D.M. Akob, I.M. Cozzarelli, A.C. Mumford, W.H. Orem, and S.C. Nagel. 2016. Endocrine Disrupting Activities of Surface Water Associated with a West Virginia Oil and Gas Industry Wastewater Disposal Site. Science of the Total Environment, 557–558: 901–910, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.113 (IP-074246). [Link]

Akob, D. M., Sumy, D., Hermes, J., and Horsfall, F. 2016. CAREER PROFILES: Options and Insights. Oceanography 29 (1), 106-110. [Link]

Akob, D.M., A. Mumford, I. M. Cozzarelli, W. H. Orem, M. Engle, J.G. Klinges, D. B. Kent. Wastewater Disposal from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development Degrades Stream Quality at a West Virginia Injection Facility. Environmental Science and Technology, in press and available online ahead of print 09 May 2016 (DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b00428) [Link]

Beulig, F., V. B. Heuer, D. M. Akob, B. Viehweger, M. Elvert, M. Herrmann, K.-U. Hinrichs, and K. Küsel. 2015. Carbon flow from volcanic CO2 into soil microbial communities of a wetland mofette. The ISME Journal, 9(3): 746-59. [Link]

Herrmann. M., A. Rusznyák, D. M. Akob, I. Schulze, S. Opitz, K.-U. Totsche, and K. Küsel. 2015. Large fractions of CO2-fixing microorganisms in pristine limestone aquifers appear to be involved in the oxidation of reduced sulfur and nitrogen compounds. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(7): 2384-2394 (IP-061930). [Link]

Akob, D. M., I. M. Cozzarelli, D. S. Dunlap, E. L. Rowan and M. M. Lorah. 2015. Organic and Inorganic Composition and Microbiology of Produced Waters from Pennsylvania Shale Gas Wells. Applied Geochemistry, 60: 116-125 (IP-061928). [Link]

Bohu, T., C. Santelli, D. M. Akob, T. R. Neu, V. Ciobota, P. Rösch, J. Popp, S. Nietzsche, and K. Küsel. 2015. Characterization of pH dependent Mn(II) oxidation strategies and acidic pH bixbyite formation by Mesorhizobium australicum T-G1. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6: e734. (IP-066249). [Link]

Ritter, D., J. C. McIntosh, D. Vinson, E. Barnhart, D. M. Akob, M. Fields, A. Cunningham, W. Orem. 2015. Enhanced Microbial Coalbed Methane Generation: A Review of Potential and Limitations. International Journal of Coal Geology, 146: 28–41 (IP-065234). [Link]

Fabisch, M., G. Freyer, C. A. Johnson, G. Büchel, D. Akob, and K. Küsel. 2015. Dominance of ‘Gallionella capsiferriformans’ and heavy metal retention by stalk-forming iron oxidizers in metal-rich groundwater discharge. Geobiology, published online ahead of print, 26 September 2015, doi: 10.1111/gbi.12162 (IP-066911).

Akob, D. M., T. Bo Hu, A. Beyer, F. Schäffner, M. Händel, D. Merten, G. Büchel, K.-U. Totsche, and K. Küsel. 2014. Identification of Mn(II)-oxidizing bacteria from a low pH contaminated former uranium mine. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 80(16): 5086-5097 [Link]

Risse-Buhl, U., M. Herrmann, D. M. Akob, P. Geesink, N. Pizani, W. Schönborn, K.-U. Totsche and K. Küsel. 2012 Phagotrophic protist diversity in the groundwater of a karstified aquifer - morphological and molecular analysis. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, 60(5): 467–479. [Link]

Keiner, R., A. Rusznyak, D. M. Akob, S. Hanf, K. Küsel, J. Popp, and T. Frosch. 2013. Raman spectroscopy – an innovative and versatile tool to follow the respirational activity and carbonate biomineralization of important cave bacteria. Analytical Chemistry, 85(18): 8708–8714. [Link]

Fabisch, M., F. Beulig, D. M. Akob, and K. Küsel. 2013. Surprising abundance of Gallionella-related iron oxidizers in creek sediments at pH 4.4 or at high heavy metal concentrations. Frontiers in Terrestrial Microbiology, 4: 390 [Link]

Rusznyák, A., D. M. Akob, S. Nietzsche, K. Eusterhues, K. U. Totsche, T. R. Neu, T. Frosch, J. Popp, R. Keiner, J. Geletneky, L. Katzschmann, E.-D. Schulze, and K. Küsel. 2012. Calcite biomineralization by bacterial isolates from the recently discovered pristine karstic Herrenberg Cave. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 78(4): 1157–1167. [Link]

Akob, D. M.*, S. H. Lee*, M. Sheth, K. Küsel, D. B. Watson, A. V. Palumbo, J. E. Kostka, and K.-J.Chin. 2012. Gene expression correlates with process rates quantified for sulfate- and Fe(III)-reducing bacteria in U(VI)-contaminated sediments. Frontiers in Terrestrial Microbiology 3:280. *Equal contribution [Link]

Akob, D. M. and K. Küsel. 2011. Where microorganisms meet rocks in the Earth's Critical Zone. Biogeosciences 8: 3531-3543. [Link]

Akob, D. M., L. Kerkhof, K. Küsel, D. B. Watson, A. V. Palumbo, and J. E. Kostka. 2011. Linking specific heterotrophic bacterial populations to bioreduction of uranium and nitrate using stable isotope probing in contaminated subsurface sediments. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77(22): 8197–8200. [Link]

Burkhardt, E.-M., S. Bischoff, D. M. Akob, G. Büchel, and K. Küsel. 2011. Heavy metal tolerance of Fe(III)-reducing microbial communities in a contaminated creek bank soil. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77(9): 3132-3136. [Link]

Lu, S., S. Gischkat, M. Reiche, D. M. Akob, K. B. Hallberg, and K. Küsel. 2010. Ecophysiology of Fe-cycling Bacteria in Acidic Sediments. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76 (24): 8174-8183. [Link]

Vishnivetskaya, T. A., C. C. Brandt, A. S. Madden, M. S. Drake, J. E. Kostka, D. M. Akob, K. Küsel, and A. V. Palumbo. 2010. Microbial Community Changes in Response to Ethanol or Methanol Amendments for U(VI) Reduction. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76(17): 5728-5735. [Link]

Sitte, J., D. M. Akob, C. Kaufmann, K. Finster, D. Banerjee, E.-M. Burkhardt, J. E. Kostka, A. Scheinost, G. Büchel and K. Küsel. 2010. Microbial Links between Sulfate Reduction and Metal Retention in Uranium and Heavy Metal-contaminated Soil. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76(10): 3143–3152. [Link]

Green, S. J., O. Prakash, T. M. Gihring, D. M. Akob, P. Jasrotia, P. M. Jardine, D. B. Watson, S. D. Brown, A. V. Palumbo and J. E. Kostka. 2010. Denitrifying bacteria from the terrestrial subsurface exposed to mixed waste contamination. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76(10): 3244–3254. [Link]

Burkhardt, E.-M., D. M. Akob, S. Bischoff, J. Sitte, J. E. Kostka, D. Banerjee, A. C. Scheinost, K. Küsel. 2010. Impact of Biostimulated Redox Processes on Metal Dynamics in an Iron-rich Creek Soil of a former Uranium Mining Area. Environmental Science & Technology 44(1): 177-183. [Link]

Prakash, O., T. M. Gihring, D. D. Dalton, K.-J. Chin, S. J. Green, D. M. Akob, G. Wanger, and J. E. Kostka. 2010. Geobacter daltonii sp. nov., an iron(III)- and uranium(VI)-reducing bacterium isolated from the shallow subsurface exposed to mixed heavy metal and hydrocarbon contamination. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 60(3): 546-553. [Link]

Akob, D. M., H. J. Mills, T. M Gihring, L. Kerkhof, J. W. Stucki, A. S. Anastacío, K.-J.Chin, K. Kusel, A. V. Palumbo, D. B. Watson, and J. E. Kostka. 2008. Functional Diversity and Electron Donor Dependence of Microbial Populations Capable of U(VI) Reduction in Radionuclide-Contaminated Subsurface Sediments. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 74(10): 3159-3170. [Link]

Blöthe, M., D. M. Akob, K. Walter, J.E. Kostka, H. L. Drake, and K. Küsel. 2008. Heterogeneity of Fe(III)-reducing microorganisms in coal-mining lake sediments caused by a pH gradient. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 74(4): 1019–1029. [Link]

Akob, D. M., H. J. Mills, & J. E. Kostka. 2007. Metabolically active microbial communities in uranium-contaminated subsurface sediments. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 59:95-107. [Link]

Diaz, M. C., D. Akob, & C. S. Cary. 2004. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of nitrifying microbes associated with tropical sponges. Proceedings of the 6th International Sponge Conference, Rapallo, Italy, 2002. Bollettino dei Musei e degli Istituti biologici dell'Università di Genova 68: 279–289.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Environmental Issuesabandoned mines and quarries
Ecology and Environmentecosystems
Ecology and Environmentbiodiversity
Water Resourceswater quality
Water Resourcesground water
Water Resourcesaquifers
Environmental Issuescontamination and pollution
Environmental Issuesmine drainage
Environmental Issuestoxic radionuclides
Environmental Issuestoxic trace elements

Microbial Ecology and Geomicrobiology

My work aims to understand how microorganisms mediate biogeochemical processes, affect the fate of contaminants in ecosystems, and contribute to the transformation of metals and minerals. In my work I combine methods from numerous disciplines including microbial cultivation (aerobic and anaerobic), molecular biology techniques, and geochemical methods.  My research program concerns 1) the cycling of metals such as iron, uranium, and manganese in natural and contaminated systems and 2) illuminating unseen microbial biodiversity in natural systems such as caves, aquifers, and carnivorous plants. 

Contact Information

Denise Akob
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr
Reston, VA 20192
703-648-5484 - Fax
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