Frank A. Fekete

Professor of Biology

Office: Arey 401 [ campus map ]
Box 5729

Phone: 207-859-5729
Fax: 207-859-5705
Mailing Address:
5729 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8857
Fekete, Frank A.

Areas of Expertise

  • Microbial physiology
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Environmental biotechnology
  • Toxic waste clean-up using biological organisms

Courses Currently Teaching

CourseCourse Title
BI133 AMicroorganisms and Society
BI248 AMicrobiology
BI348 APathogenic Bacteriology

Current Research

Physiological and genetic mechanisms of bacterial resistance to environmental toxic metals and antibiotics Trace metal physiology: siderophores and natural chelating agents
Environmental Biotechnology
Toxic Metal Bioremediation

I am conducting investigations in the bioremediation of environmental sites contaminated with toxic heavy metals. Our approach is to isolate toxic metal tolerant strains of bacteria and then to determine the physiological basis of the resistance mechanism. In so doing, conditions could then be optimized to construct bioreactor systems in an attempt to mitigate the heavy metal contaminant concentrations at various environmental sites. In conjunction with Dr. Keith Johnson, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Colby College, we are studying the effects of environmental mercury in various systems (soil, lake trout gastrointestinal tract, and human oral cavity) and how this toxic metal is providing selective pressure in the evolution of mercury-resistant bacterial strains. In selecting for mercury-resistant microbial strains, the metal is also responsible for the co-selection of antibiotic-resistance determinants because genes responsible for both antibiotic- and mercury-resistance are linked genetically. Mercury is a by-product of various industrial applications, in particular it is found in emissions from coal-fired electrical generation plants in the Midwest. Atmospheric mercury is then deposited in the Maine environment via liquid precipitation. Hence, over time, not only does mercury pose a serious environmental health threat, bacterial strains are evolving that show an increased incidence of resistance to antibiotics. Conceivably, these genes could then be transferred horizontally to pathogens, making treatments of infectious disease with antibiotics non-efficacious.


  • Fekete, F.A., J.T. Spence and T. Emery. 1983. Siderophores produced by nitrogen-fixing Azotobacter vinelandii OP in iron-limited continuous culture. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 46: 1297-1300.
  • Fekete, F.A., R.A. Lanzi, J.B. Beaulieu, D.C. Longcope, A.W. Sulya, R.N. Hayes and G.A. Mabbott. 1989. Isolation and preliminary characterization of hydroxamic acids formed by nitrogen-fixing Azotobacter chroococcum B-8. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 55: 298-305.
  • Fekete, F.A., V. Chandhoke and J. Jellison. 1989. Iron-binding compounds produced by wood-decaying basidiomycetes. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 55: 2720-2722.
  • Fekete, F.A. 1992. Book Chapter: Assays for microbial siderophores. pp.399-417. In: Iron Chelation in Plants and Plant-Associated Microbial Systems. L.L. Barton and B.C. Hemming, eds. Academic Press Inc., New York.
  • Fekete, F.A. 1994. Book Chapter: Bioremediation of aqueous and soil environments contaminated with toxic wastes. pp147-172. In: Technology and the Environment, Interdisciplinary Perspectives. J.R. Fleming and H.A. Gemery, eds. University of Akron Press.

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