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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Department of Biological Sciences
Biology Faculty
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Department of Biological Sciences
1W14 Jonsson-Rowland Science Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 Eighth Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590

Phone: (518) 276-6446
Fax: (518) 276-2344

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Biology Home Undergraduate Graduate Faculty Research News and Events Contacts
Donna L. Bedard

Research Professor

Education and Training

B.S. Jackson College, Tufts University

Ph. D. University of Chicago

Postdoctoral Training, Johns Hopkins University
Molecular Biology

Dr. Bedard was a Research Scientist at the GE Corporate Research and Development, Niskayuna, NY, before joining Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1999. She was selected as Visiting Scholar in the EU sponsored Erasmus Mundus Masters of Science Program in  Environmental Technology and Engineering for 2012 and 2013.  For this she presented a series of lectures in Environmental Microbiology in the spring semester in Prague, Czech Republic.

For the 2005-2006 academic year she was a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, Czech Republic. She won the American Chemical Society's prestigious Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Sciences and Technology in 1995 and GE's Dushman Award in 1992. She was selected as an American Society for Microbiology Foundation Lecturer in 1996.  She was also selected to participate as “Distinguished Faculty” for several graduate level international workshops on Bioremediation. She is a member of the American Society for Microbiology.


Tel: (518) 276-2912

Office: Materials Research Center Rm. 236

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy NY 12180-3596

Research Interests

Molecular environmental microbiology, environmental biotechnology, and molecular microbial ecology/evolution. Our particular focus is reductive dehalogenation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by anaerobic bacteria.

Our lab’s research interests are in molecular environmental microbiology, environmental biotechnology, and molecular microbial ecology/evolution.

More specifically: (1) Identification, characterization, and isolation of bacteria that catalyze reductive dechlorination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in anaerobic sediment. (2) Identifying the enzymes involved in PCB dehalogenation and the genes that encode them. (3) Understanding how these dehalogenating enzymes evolved. (4) Development of effective processes to activate PCB dechlorination in situ.

We are working with microbial cultures that remove specific chlorines from at least 64 different PCB molecules with different chlorine substitution patterns. The bacterial population that does this belongs to a recently discovered and highly unusual species of bacteria known as Dehalococcoides mccartyi. These organisms use halogenated compounds such as chlorinated ethenes, chlorinated benzenes, and PCBs as terminal electron acceptors for respiration.. In fact, respiratory dehalogenation, replacing the halogens of halogenated organic compounds with hydrogen atoms, is their only known means of growth. Genomic studies have shown that all strains of Dehalococcoides mccartyi  have multiple reductive dehalogenase genes, and some have as many as 32 putative reductive dehalogenase genes. One of our objectives is to identify and characterize the reductive dehalogenases that dechlorinate PCBs and to understand how widespread they are, how they are regulated, and how they evolved. We are collaborating with several laboratories at other Universities in this effort.

Selected Publications

V. Dudková, K. Demnerová, K., D.L. Bedard. 2012. Sediment-free Anaerobic Microbial Enrichments With Novel Dechlorinating Activity Against Highly Chlorinated Commercial PCBs. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology 87:1254-1262.

L. Adrian, V. Dudková, K. Demnerová, K., D.L. Bedard. 2009. Dehalococcoides strain CBDB1 extensively dechlorinates the commercial polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) mixture Aroclor 1260.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology 75:4516-4524.

D.L. Bedard. 2008. A case study for microbial degradation: Anaerobic bacterial reductive dechlorination of polychlorinated biphenyls -- from sediment to defined medium.  Annual Reviews of  Microbiology 62:253-270.

D. L. Bedard, K. M. Ritalahti, and F.E. Löffler.  2007.  The Dehaloccoides population in sediment-free mixed cultures metabolically  dechlorinates the commercial polychlorinated biphenyl mixture Aroclor 1260.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 73:2513-2521.

D. L. Bedard.  2007.  Dehalococcoides: Nature's anaerobic superbugs.  Proceedings of the 4th Symposium of Biosorption and Biodegradation, Prague, Czech Republic, pp. 7-10.

D. L. Bedard, J.J. Bailey, B. L. Reiss, and  G.V.S. Jerzak. 2006. Development and  characterization of stable sediment-free anaerobic bacterial enrichment cultures that dechlorinate Aroclor 1260.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 72:2460-2470.

D.L. Bedard, E. Pohl, J.J. Bailey, and A. Murphy.  2006. Characterization of the PCB substrate range of Microbial Dechlorination Process LP.  Environ. Sci. Technol. 39: 6831-6839.

D.L. Bedard, G.V.S. Jerzak, and J. J. Bailey. 2003. Strategies for selective enrichment of  microorganisms carrying out reductive dechlorination of polychlorinated biphenyls in freshwater sediments.  Fresenius Environmental Bulletin. 12:276-285.

D. L. Bedard, Polychlorinated biphenyls in aquatic sediments: Environmental fate and outlook for biological treatment. In Dehalogenation: Microbial Processes and Environmental Applications, M. M. Häggblom and I. Bossert,  Kluwer Press, pp. 443-465 (2003).

Bedard, D. L., H.M. Van Dort, and K.A. DeWeerd.  1998. Brominated biphenyls prime extensive microbial dechlorination of Aroclor 1260 in Housatonic River sediment. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 64: 1786-1795.

DeWeerd, K.A. and D.L. Bedard. 1999.  The use of halogenated benzoates and other halogenated aro­matic com­pounds to stimulate the microbial dechlorination of PCBs. Environ. Sci. Technol. 33:2057-2063.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Department of Biological Sciences