The microbiology of hypersaline environments relevant to Mars and the ocean worlds is the main focus of the Schneegurt Lab. Substantial work was done at the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma to isolate and characterize halotolerant and halophilic microbes growing in high NaCl. This work was extended to salty environments (Hot Lake and Basque Lake) rich in magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), as this is an important salt on Mars. The astrobiology work impacts the search for life on Mars and forward planetary protection (keeping Mars clean). We measure tolerances to other Mars salts as well, including perchlorate and chlorate salts. Related studies on sugars teach us more about living in very high solutes, and hence, low water activity. We have demonstrated bacterial growth in saturated and eutectic solutions of Mars salts. Dry salts on Mars may absorb humidity from the atmosphere and form dense brines with low freezing points that may remain liquid on Mars.
Beyond our work with NASA, we participate in collaborative projects in medical microbiology. We are working with WSU Chemists on a new class of antibiotics, we call liptins, which bind specifically to bacterial lipids. Liptins seem to be specific, with low toxicity, and are active against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and Mycobacteria. A project with WSU Biomedical Engineers is examining the formation of biofilms on advanced materials that can be used as coatings for bone implants and cardiac stents. An earlier project on feather microbiology led to the discovery of plant pathogens on wild bird feathers, perhaps carrying disease over long distances. Many of the feather isolates exhibit keratinases that degrade the protein keratin. These have great potential for use in dermatology and the hide industry.
General Biology I
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Nickel, T. D., W. G. Welch, C. H. Cope, R. A. Hacker, A. K. Reed, D. A. Distler, C. M Rogers, and M. A. Schneegurt (2019) Reassessment of freshwater unionid mussel diversity and abundance in the Walnut River Basin, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 122:39-48.
Crisler, J. D., F. Chen, B. C. Clark, and M. A. Schneegurt (2019) Cultivation and characterization of the bacterial assemblage of epsomic Basque Lake, BC. Antonie van Leuwenhoek 112:1105-1119.
Wilks, J. M., F. Chen, B. C. Clark, and M. A. Schneegurt (2019) Bacterial growth in saturated and eutectic solutions of magnesium sulphate and potassium chlorate with relevance to Mars and the ocean worlds. International Journal of Astrobiology,2019:1–8. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1473550418000502.
Schneegurt, M. A. (2018) Author responsibilities in the aftermath of a scientific publication. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 121:400-402.
Caton, I. R., T. M. Caton, and M. A. Schneegurt. (2018) Nitrogen-fixation activity and the abundance and taxonomy of nifH genes in agricultural, pristine, and urban prairie stream sediments chronically exposed to different levels of nitrogen loading. Archives of Microbiology 200:623-633.
Caton, I. R., T. M. Caton, and M. A. Schneegurt. (2017) Abundance and taxonomy of nifH genes and nitrogen-fixation activity in agricultural, pristine, and urban prairie stream sediments chronically exposed to different levels of nitrogen loading. Archives for Microbiology, doi.org/10.1007/s00203-018-1475-5.
Schneegurt, M. A. (2017) Copyediting and proofreading scientific publications after
acceptance. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 120:200-202.
Al Soudi, A. F., O. Farhat, F. Chen, B. C. Clark, and M. A. Schneegurt. (2017) Bacterial growth tolerance to concentrations of chlorate and perchlorate salts relevant to Mars. International Journal of Astrobiology 16:229-235.
Fredsgaard, C., D. B. Moore, F. Chen, B. C. Clark, and M. A. Schneegurt. (2017) Prevalence of sucretolerant bacteria in common soils and their isolation and characterization. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 110:995-1005.
Parker, N., M. A. Schneegurt, A.-H. T. Tu, B. M. Forster, and P. Lister (2017) OpenStax Microbiology. OpenStax College, Rice University, 1308 pp.
Fredsgaard, C., D. B. Moore, A. F. Al Soudi, J. D. Crisler, F. Chen, B. C. Clark, and M. A. Schneegurt (2017) Relationships between sucretolerance and salinotolerance in bacteria from hypersaline environments and their implications for the exploration of Mars and the icy worlds. International Journal of Astrobiology 16:156-162.
Schneegurt, M. A. (2016) Peer review in scientific publication. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 119:360-362.
Harris, D. and M. A. Schneegurt (2016) The other open-access debate. American Scientist 104:334-336; 105:3.
Dille, J. W., C. M. Rogers, and M. A. Schneegurt (2016) Isolation and characterization of bacteria isolated from the feathers of wild Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis). The Auk 133:155-167.
Schneegurt, M. A. (2015) Choosing a scientific journal for your manuscript. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 118:248-250.
Schneegurt, M. A. (2014) Awarding the distinction of authorship on a scientific paper. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 117:270-272.
Kilmer, B. R., T. C. Eberl, B. Cunderla, F. Chen, B. C. Clark, and M. A. Schneegurt (2014) Molecular and phenetic characterization of the bacterial assemblage of Hot Lake, WA, an environment with high concentrations of magnesium sulphate, and its relevance to Mars. International Journal of Astrobiology 13:69-80.
Biological Sciences, Wichita State University
Curriculum and Instruction, Wichita State University 2014-present
Coleman Foundation Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship
Barton School of Business, Wichita State University 2014-present
Biomedical Engineering, Wichita State University 2013-present
Field of Study
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Published Abstracts not appearing elsewhere
- WSU Chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
- WSU GK-12 program archive
- NASA NSCORT in Bioregenerative Live Support