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Kara B. De León, PhD

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Kara B. De León, PhD

Assistant Professor of Microbiology

612 George Lynn Cross Hall
770 Van Vleet Oval
Norman, OK 73019

B.S., Biology and Chemistry, Northwest Nazarene University, 2006
PhD, Microbiology, Montana State University, 2013
Postdoc, University of Missouri, 2013-2019


Research Areas:
Microbiology, Microbial Ecology and Physiology, Genetics and Genomics, Anaerobic Microbiology

Research interests:
My interdisciplinary research combines computational biology, genomics, high-throughput and targeted mutant generation, field geophysical measurements, and biochemical and molecular methods to determine the genetic requirements for microbial functions of interest and to create predictive microbial community models to ultimately determine how microbial communities maintain stability and are resilient to environmental fluctuations.  I aim to use genomics to determine how any microorganism adapts to survive and at times even thrives in an environment.  My current research has been characterizing physiologies of anaerobic, sulfate-reducing bacteria within two environments: the subsurface and the rat colon.  I am particularly interested in the community structure and function of anaerobic microbes when attached to surfaces as biofilms because the active microbes in many environments are found attached rather than free-living and growth within a biofilm provides the cells protection against environmental stresses.  I am also always interested in developing genetic systems for recalcitrant organisms.  My goal is to rapidly bring new isolates or novel microbes to model status and contribute to the diversity of microbes that can be tested genetically in the laboratory.

Relevant Publications:

Jenneman GE and De León KB. (2022). Environmental stressors alter the susceptibility of microorganisms to biocides in upstream oil and gas systems. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Journal. Accepted.

De León KB. (2021). mSphere of Influence: surface sensing in biofilm formation. mSphere. 6(3):e00369-21.

Wall JD, Zane GM, Juba TR, Kuehl JV, Ray J, Chhabra SR, Trotter VV, Shatsky M, De León KB, Keller KL, Bender KS, Butland GP, Arkin AP, Deutschbauer AM. (2021). Deletion mutants, archived transposon library, and tagged protein constructs of the model sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough. Microbiol Resour Announc.10(11):e00072-21.

Zane GM, Wall JD, De León KB. (2020). Novel mode of molybdate inhibition of Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough. Front Microbiol. 11:610455.

Moon J-W, Paradis CJ, Joyner DC, von Netzer F, Majumder EL, Dixon ER, Podar M, Ge X, Walian PJ, Smith HJ, Wu X, Zane GM, Walker KF, Thorgersen MP, Poole II FL, Lui LM, Adams BG, De León KB, Brewer SS, Williams DE, Lowe KA, Rodriguez, Jr. M, Mehlhorn TL, Pfiffner SM, Chakraborty R, Arkin AP, Wall JD, Fields MW, Adams MWW, Stahl DA, Elias DA, Hazen TC. 2020. Characterization of subsurface media from locations up- and down-gradient of a uranium-contaminated aquifer. Chemosphere. 255:126951.

Day LA, De León KB, Kempher ML, Zhou J, Wall JD. (2019). Complete genome sequence of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans IC1, a sulfonate-respiring anaerobe. Microbiol Resour Announc. 8:e00456-19.

Ge X, Vaccaro BJ, Thorgersen MP, Poole II FL, Majumder E.L. Zane GM, De León KB, Lancaster WA, Moon JW, Lowe KA, Paradis CJ, Joyner DC, von Netzer F, Stahl DA, Adams PD, Arkin AP, Wall JD, Hazen TC, Adams MWW. (2019). Iron- and aluminum-induced depletion of molybdenum in acidic environments impedes the nitrogen cycle.  Environ Microbiol. 21(1):152-63.

Smith HJ, Zelaya AJ, De León KB, Chakraborty R, Elias DA, Hazen TC, Arkin AP, Cunningham AB, Fields MW. (2018). Impact of hydrologic boundaries on microbial planktonic and biofilm communities in shallow terrestrial subsurface environments. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 94(12):fiy191. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiy191.

De León KB, Zane GM, Trotter VV, Krantz GP, Arkin AP, Butland GP, Walian PJ, Fields MW, Wall JD. (2017). Unintended laboratory-driven evolution reveals genetic requirements for biofilm formation by Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough. mBio. 8(5)e01696-17.

Elnahas MO, De León KB, Amin MA, Hussein MMD, Ali AE, Wall JD. (2017). Complete genome sequencing of Streptomyces sp. MOE7 which produces an extracellular polysaccharide(s) with antioxidant and antitumor activities. Genome Announc. 5(22):e00442-17. 

De León KB, Utturkar SM, Camilleri LB, Elias DA,  Arkin AP, Fields MW, Brown SD, Wall JD. (2015). Complete genome sequence of Pelosinus fermentans JBW45, a member of a remarkably competitive group of Negativicutes in the Firmicutes phylum. Genome Announc. 3(5):e01090-15.  

De León KB, Gerlach R, Peyton BM, Fields MW. (2013). Archaeal and bacterial communities in alkaline hot springs in Heart Lake Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. Front Microbiol. 4:330. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00330.