Montana State University
Department of Microbiology and Immunology > Microbiology > Keith Cooksey, Ph.D., Research Professor Emeritus

Keith Cooksey, Ph.D., Research Professor Emeritus

Keith Cooksey

Office: 113B Lewis Hall
Phone: 406 994-6136

Lab: 103 Cooley Lab
406 994-3022


Office Hours

Unfortunately, Dr. Cooksey is unable to accept applications at this time.

Research Interests
Diatoms are microscopic brown algae with silicon dioxide cell walls. They are found on most illuminated wetted surfaces where they form biofilms that are difficult to remove by mechanical or hydraulic means. In the sea and freshwater streams, they cover all rocks. In fast-moving streams they are responsible for most of the photosynthetic carbon input to the community. In the marine environment attached diatoms also drive the physiology of the biofilm of which they are the most visually obvious component. Practical results of their activity are the increased hydrodynamic drag on ships, buoys and other marine structures, as well as deterioration of in situ sensor equipment. Diatoms and their extracellular polymers are also responsible for the stabilization of near-shore marine sediments and thus they protect coastal areas from erosion. We have found that bacteria indigenous to diatom biofilms control the extent to which these films form. The active material from the bacteria has properties similar to those of a lectin.

The Cooksey laboratory is involved in various aspects of the above, i.e., (i).an investigation concerning how a bacterial lectin and a diatom signaling compound control diatom activity, (ii). whether an antibiotic from a marine bacterium or other naturally-occurring compounds, can be of use in controlling fouling.

Recently the ways by which microalgae accumulate triglycerides and how these molecules can form the basis of an industry (biodiesel, biojet fuel), have once more become of interest. We are interested in the means by which carbon in the form of acetyl CoA is partitioned between the production of energy via the Krebs tricarboxylic acid cycle and triglyceride synthesis. This is probably the major controlling point between lipid synthesis and its utilization. Below are selected articles from our laboratory.

Figures from a recent paper - Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2005)

Figure 1 | Figure 2 | Figure 3 | Figure 4

Curriculum Vitae: pdf

Select Posters:
Lipid-Derived Biofuels: Determination of Factors that Control Triglyceride Accumulation in Microalgae (powerpoint)
Lipid-Derived Biofuels: Determination of Factors that Control Triglyceride Accumulation in Microalgae (pdf)

TERRA 446: Algal Biofuels II (watch)

MB 432 - Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology

Selected Articles:

1. Cooksey, K.E., J.B. Guckert, S.A. Williams, and P.R. Calli, "Fluorometric determination of the neutral lipid content of microalgal cells using Nile Red". J. of Microbiological Methods, 6:333-345 (1987). Link: pdf

2. Guckert, J.B., K.E. Cooksey, and L.L. Jackson, "Lipid solvent Systems are not equivalent for analysis of lipid classes in the microeukaryotic green alga, Chlorella". J. of Microbiological Methods, 8:139-149 (1989). Link: pdf

3. Guckert, J.B., and K.E. Cooksey, "Triglyceride accumulation and fatty acid profile changes in Chlorella (Chlorophyta) during high pH-induced cell cycle inhibition". J. Phycol, 26:72-79 (1990). Link: pdf