Dr. Sidney Crow
The Crow lab research group has focused on the ecology and physiology of microorganisms (particularly yeast and filamentous fungi) for the past 15 years. Currently, this focus has resulted in my research concentrating on three interesting areas: 1) Indoor air quality, 2) bioremediation, 3) effects of biologically active molecules in microbial systems.
Indoor air quality has been a concern since the energy crises of the 70's lead to "tight" buildings. Many of the problems of poor quality air are the result of the release of volatile organic by building materials or finishing material such as carpet, wall coverings, etc. However a significant number of "sick buildings" are not producing industrial volatiles and the problem is thought to be microbiological. Because of their hardier physiology, the fungi are capable of colonizing a building and continually shedding allergenic particles. We are studying the processes of fungal colonization of materials, conditions which enhance the release of conidia and the relationship of numbers of viable fungi in the air with air quality complaints. These studies include studies of the production of volatile organic compounds and mycotoxins by fungi.
Bioremediation or enhanced microbiological treatment, of environments contaminated with a variety of organic and inorganic compounds is one of the most effective innovative technologies to appear during the past 20 years. We are involved in the study of t he metabolism of a number of compounds including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, industrial solvents, lipids and hydrocarbons.
Biologically active molecules are a diverse and metabolically interesting group of molecules. Many of the common naturally occurring biologically active molecules are hydrophobic. Hydrophobic compounds are a diverse and metabolically interesting group of molecules. In addition to common fatty acids and phospholipids, this class includes a variety of intensely active molecules such as the prostaglandins, interleukins and hormones both steroid and non-steroid. Many bioactive plant products such as the alkal oids also have hydrophobic properties. The metabolic fate and effect of hydrophobic molecules (such as lipids, aromatic hydrocarbons and bioactive molecules) are of general interest for a number of reasons. Transport of potentially toxic molecules may also be altered by membrane changes. This information will give us baseline toxicity data which will contribute to the understanding of structure-function relationships in these molecules and provide the background required for further evaluation of biotransformation.