Benson Lab Home Page

David R. Benson PhD, FAAM


Professor of Microbiology, and Head
Department of Molecular & Cell Biology U-3125
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269-3125
Phone: 860-486-4258


e-mail: david.benson@uconn.edu


Course Links
Research Links

Applied Microbiology MCB235/336

Publications - CV
Intro Res. Literature MCB3841W Frankia Site
Students Microbiology Program at UConn

Over the years, my research has focused on various aspects of microbiology, in particular, the interaction of microorganisms with their environment, whether it be in plants, in animals, in food or at temperature extremes. My students have studied primarily the interaction of actinomycetes from the genus Frankia with plants known as actinorhizal plants in the actinorhizal symbiosis. I have also maintained interests in cheese microbiology and tick symbionts.

The actinorhizal plant Morella pensylvanica growing in sand dunes in coastal NJ (left). An actinorhizal root nodule (about 1.5 cm dia., center) and a phase contrast micrograph of Frankia sp. CpI1 showing spores and hyphae. (images by D. Benson)

A tour of the symbiosis can be found at the Frankia website that was assembled using funds from the NSF-USDA Joint Microbial Genome Sequencing program. Our current efforts are directed at understanding the overall structure and characteristics of the Frankia genome, proteome and transcriptome compared to closely related organisms. We are attempting to tease out the genes that make Frankia unique and that enable the organism to enter into a symbiosis with higher plants.