Richard W. Castenholz

University of Oregon, USA

Richard W. Castenholz received the Ph.D. degree in botany from Washington State University in 1957. Since 1969, he has served as a Full Professor (and lately Professor Emeritus) at the University of Oregon, where he serves as a Member of the Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (CEEB). He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1970-71) and Fulbright Scholarship (1977-78). He served a Member of the Bergey’s Manual Trust (1991-2001) and author of several chapters (mainly cyanobacteria) in Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, 1989 and 2001. In 2005, he received the Bergey Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Bacterial Taxonomy. Since the middle 1960's, he has been involved mainly in studying the ecology of cyanobacteria of hot springs, but also anoxygenic phototrophs with the discovery of the new genera, chloroflexus and heliothrix (with Beverly Pierson). Later this became a study of microbial mats of other freshwater and marine habitats, including Antarctica. A long-term project has been an evaluation of the adaptive value of responses by cyanobacteria to UV-radiation. In these studies, scytonemin was first characterized. This UV-sunscreen pigment occurs in sheaths of many cyanobacteria and he has shown its positive role (with Ferran Garcia-Pichel). In addition, he has established a culture collection of cyanobacteria and microalgae from many locations and extreme habitats. Over 1,200 strains are being maintained in the Castenholz lab [The UO Culture Collection of Microorganisms from Extreme Environments (CCMEE)]. Recently (2002-present), his work has focused partly on desiccation and freezing tolerance of endolithic cyanobacteria (with Dr. Tracy Norris) as well as on the role of environmental factors in the regulation of scytonemin synthesis in cyanobacteria (with Dr. Erich Fleming). In addition, the lab is involved in a long-term project on biodiversity, biogeography, and ecology of the thermoacidophilic, unicellular algae of the Rhodophytan order Cyanidiales.

Biography Updated on 17 January 2011

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