Dr. Russell Hill

Dr. Johan Schijf

Dr. Russell Hill Quicklinks:

Current Funded projects

Education and Experience

IMET Website

Presentations

Publications

Student Research

Teaching

Research Interests

  • Diversity and roles of microbial symbionts associated with marine invertebrates, in particular sponges
  • Marine microbes, including symbionts of marine invertebrates, as sources of novel bioactive compounds with pharmaceutical potential
  • Marine microalgae for production of biofuels and other bioproducts
  • Marine molecular microbiology

The major focus of research in my laboratory is the investigation of symbiotic bacteria associated with marine invertebrates, in particular, sponges. Sponges provide an excellent model system for understanding evolution of complex symbiotic interactions. Microbial communities associated with marine sponges are remarkably diverse, include novel bacteria not found in other ecosystems and closely related sponges have similar microbial communities. We are studying the diversity and functions of these communities. The role of symbiotic bacteria in nitrogen cycling in sponges is under investigation. Signaling compounds produced by sponge-associated bacteria are being investigated with our collaborator Dr. Clay Fuqua at Indiana University.

Many important compounds with pharmaceutical potential have been discovered in sponges and other invertebrates. In some cases, the compounds of interest are produced, not by the sponges themselves, but by bacteria associated with the sponges. We are identifying many of the bacteria present in sponges even if we cannot grow them, by cloning the genes encoding the 16S ribosomal RNA from these sponges. We can then rationally select culture conditions to be able to grow a higher proportion of the bacteria and, hopefully, find the ones that produce important compounds. We have isolated a Micromonospora sp. strain M42 from the Indonesian sponge Acanthostrongylophora that produces manzamine A, an antimalarial compound found in this sponge. We also succeeded in isolating symbiotic Vibrio sp. that produce kahalalide F, a promising anti-cancer compound first found in the Hawaiian mollusk Elysia rufescens. These projects are in collaboration with Dr. Mark Hamann at the School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi.  We also have research projects in the important first stage of the drug discovery process, focusing on discovery of unusual marine bacteria, in particular actinomycetes, that have a high potential of producing novel products.   

A new research area in my laboratory, in collaboration with colleagues Feng Chen, Al Place and Yoni Zohar at IMET, is production of biofuels and other useful compounds by marine microalgae.  Our specific interest is the role of symbiotic bacteria that improve the growth and stability of microalgal cultures. 

Education and Experience

2012-present.  Director and Professor, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

2010-2012.  Professor and Interim Associate Director, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

2009-2010.  Professor, Center of Marine Biotechnology (COMB), University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI).

2007-2010.  Associate Director, COMB, UMBI.

2001-2009.  Associate Professor, COMB, UMBI.

2002-present.    Adjunct Associate and Full Professor, Department of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi.

1998-2001.  Senior Scientist, COMB, UMBI.

1997-2000.  Senior Lecturer, School of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.  Conjoint.

1996-1998.  Research Scientist (Microbiology), Marine Bioproducts Group, Australian Institute of Marine Science.

1992-1996.  Research Assistant Professor, COMB, UMBI.

1989-1992.  Postdoctoral Research Associate, COMB, UMBI.

1988. Ph.D. in Microbiology.  Department of Microbiology, University of Cape Town, South Africa.  Advisor: Professor David. R. Woods.  Thesis: "Gene cloning studies in two nocardioform bacteria".

Student Research

I currently advise three graduate students in the MEES Program, one graduate student in the University of Maryland Baltimore Graduate Program in Life Sciences (GPILS) and one visiting graduate student.  MEES student Jindong Zan works on acyl-homoserine quorum sensing in bacteria isolated from sponges and the role of this signaling in sponge colonization by the bacterial symbionts.  Fan Zhang is a Fulbright Scholar in the MEES Program and is studying nitrogen cycling by sponge associated bacteria and archaea. Jeanette Davis is a MEES student supported by the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC), working on the symbionts associated with the Hawaiian mollusk Elysia rufescens and their role in production of the anti-cancer compound kahalalide F.  GPILS student Naomi Montalvo is studying the remarkable bacterial diversity associated with giant barrel sponges in the genus Xestospongia.  Visiting graduate student Hui Wang is advised by Dr. Tianling Zheng at Xiamen University and I serve as co-advisor for his work on the bacterial symbionts associated with the marine microalga Nannochloropsis.  A new graduate student Jan Vicente will join the Hill Laboratory in the fall of 2010 to work on actinobacteria associated with marine sponges. 

Presentations

Hill, R. T.  2010.  Assessing marine microbial diversity for natural products discovery. Gordon Research Conference on Oceans and Human Health.  Biddeford ME.

Sims, J., O. Peraud, N. Kasanah, K. V. Rao, M. A. Anderson, R. T. Hill and M. T. Hamann.  2010. Manzamine Biosynthesis by Micromonospora sp. M42. Gordon Research Conference on Marine Natural Products.  Ventura Beach, CA.  28th Feb-5th March, 2010.

Davis, J. and R. T. Hill.  2009.  Bacterial symbionts of a marine invertebrate as sources of bioactive compounds.  Fifth National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration-Educational Partnership Program Forum on Science and Education.  Washington, DC.

Montalvo, N. F. and R. T. Hill.  2009.  Bacterial symbionts associated with two species of Xestospongia giant barrel sponges.  Fifth National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration-Educational Partnership Program Forum on Science and Education.  Washington, DC.

Zan, J., C. Fuqua and R. T. Hill.  2009.  Diversity of luxS genes in vibrios from the marine sponges Mycale laxissima and Ircinia strobilina. 17th Annual Microbial Genomics Conference, Rocky Gap, Maryland.

Dib, J. F., M. Wagenknecht, R. T. Hill, M. E. Farías and F. Meinhardt.  2009.  Novel linear megaplasmid from Brevibacterium sp. isolated from extreme environment.  Sociedad Argentina de investigación Bioquímica y Biologîa Molecular (SAIB) 45th Annual Meeting, Tucumán, Argentina.

Mohamed, N. M, K. Saito, Y. Tal, and R. T. Hill.  2009. Diversity of aerobic and anaerobic ammonia oxidizing bacteria in marine sponges. 109th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, Philadelphia, PA.

Hill, R. T., N. M. Mohamed, N. F. Montalvo, M. A. Anderson and M. T. Hamann.  2008.  Symbionts of marine invertebrates:  Biodiversity and biomedical potential.  13th International Biotechnology Symposium.  Dalian, China.

Kelman, D., Y. Kashman, R. T. Hill, E. Rosenberg and Y. Loya.  Chemical warfare in the sea: The search for antibiotics from Red Sea corals and sponges.  2008.  IUPAC International Conference on Biodiversity and Natural Products.  Charlottetown, PEI, Canada.

Kroll, S., E. Cicirelli, J. Herman, N. Mohamed, M. Churchill, R. Hill and C. Fuqua. 2008.  Shouts and whispers by the seashore: Acylhomoserine lactone signaling by sponge-associated bacteria. 12th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology. Cairns, Australia.

Montalvo, N. F. and R. T. Hill. 2008. Comparison of the bacterial communities associated with the tropical marine sponges Xestospongia muta and Xestospongia testudinaria. 108th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, Boston, MA.

Pittiglio, R., M. Anderson and R. Hill.  2008.  Construction and analysis of a fosmid library for Vibrio HV10.  3rd Annual Research Symposium, Advanced Biotechnology Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Montgomery, MD.

Davis, J., N. M. Montalvo and R. T. Hill.  2008.  Characterization of novel sponge-associated bacteria from the giant barrel sponge Xestospongia muta.  2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting.  From the watershed to the global ocean.  Orlando, FL.

Montalvo, N. M and R. T. Hill. 2008.  Identification of specific bacterial symbionts in the giant barrel sponges, Xestospongia muta and Xestospongia testudinaria. 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting.  From the watershed to the global ocean.  Orlando, FL.

Cicirelli, E. M., N. M. Mohamed, S. Kroll, R. T. Hill and C. Fuqua.  2008.  Microbial symbionts of sponges and quorum sensing. 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting.  From the watershed to the global ocean.  Orlando, FL.

Hill, R. T., N.F. Montalvo, N.M. Mohamed and M.A. Anderson.  2008.  Bacterial symbionts of marine invertebrates:  biodiversity and biotechnology.  Bio-08, joint meeting of the South African Society of Microbiology, the South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Biotech SA.  Grahamstown, South Africa.  Plenary Lecture.

Publications

Radwan, M., A. Hanora, J. Zan, N. M. Mohamed, D. M. Abo-Elmatty, S. H. Abou-El-Ela and R. T. Hill.  2010. Bacterial community analyses of two Red Sea sponges.  Mar. Biotechnol. 12:350-360.

Dib, J. R., M. Wagenknecht, R. T. Hill, M. E. Farías and F. Meinhardt.  2010.  Novel linear megaplasmid from Brevibacterium sp. isolated from extreme environment.  Journal of Basic Microbiology.  50:1-5.

Dib, J. R., M. Wagenknecht, R. T. Hill, M. E. Farías and F. Meinhardt.  2010.  First report of linear megaplasmids in the genus Micrococcus.  Plasmid 63:40-45.

Mohamed, N., K. Saito, Y. Tal and R. T. Hill.  2009. Diversity of aerobic and anaerobic ammonia oxidizing bacteria in marine sponges.  ISME J. 4:38-48.

To Isaacs, L., J. Kan, L. Nguyen, P. Videau, M. A. Anderson, T. L. Wright and R. T. Hill.  2009.  Comparison of the bacterial communities of wild and captive sponge Clathria prolifera from the Chesapeake Bay.  Mar. Biotechnol. 11:758-770.

Kelman, D., Y. Kashman, R. T. Hill, E. Rosenberg, and Y. Loya.  2009.  Chemical warfare in the sea: The search for antibiotics from Red Sea corals and sponges.  Pure Appl. Chem.  81:1113-1121. 

Mohamed, N. M., A. S. Colman, Y. Tal, and R. T. Hill. 2008. Diversity and expression of nitrogen fixation genes in bacterial symbionts of marine sponges.  Environ. Microbiol.10:2910-2921.

Na, M., D. A. F. Meujo, D. Kevin, M. T. Hamann, M. Anderson, and R. T. Hill.  2008. A new antimalarial polyether from a marine Streptomyces sp. H668.  Tetrahedron Lett. 49:6282-6285.

Mohamed, N. M., V. Rao, M. T. Hamann, M. Kelly and R. T. Hill.  2008. Monitoring bacterial diversity and metabolite production of the marine sponge Ircinia strobilina on transfer into aquaculture.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74:4133-4143.

Mohamed, N. M., J. J. Enticknap, J. E. Lohr, S. M. McIntosh, and R. T. Hill.  2008. Changes in bacterial communities of the marine sponge Mycale laxissima on transfer into aquaculture.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74:1209-1222.

Lampert, Y., D. Kelman, Y. Nitzan, Z. Dubinsky, A. Behar and R. T. Hill.  2008. Phylogenetic diversity of bacteria associated with the mucus of Red Sea corals.  FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 64:187-198.

Hilyard, E. J., J. M. Jones-Meehan, B. J. Spargo and R. T. Hill.  2008.  Enrichment, isolation and phylogenetic identification of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria from Elizabeth River sediments. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74:1176-1182.

Ries, J. B., M. A. Anderson and R. T. Hill.  2008. Seawater Mg/Ca influences polymorph mineralogy of microbial CaCO3: A proxy for calcite-aragonite seas in Precambrian time.  Geobiol.  6:106-119.

Mohamed, N. M., E. M. Cicirelli, J. Kan, F. Chen, C. Fuqua and R. T. Hill.  2007. Diversity and quorum sensing signal production of Proteobacteria associated with marine sponges.  Environ. Microbiol. 10:75-86.

Hamann, M. T., S. Roggo and R. T. Hill.  2007. Marine natural products.  Key advances to the practical application of this resource in drug development.  Chimia 61:313-321.

Taylor, M., R. T. Hill, J. Piel, R. W. Thacker and U. Hentschel.  2007.  Soaking it up: The complex lives of marine sponges and their microbial associates. ISME J.  1:187-190.

Lampert, Y., D. Kelman, Z. Dubinsky, Y. Nitzan, and R.  T. Hill.  2006.  Diversity of culturable bacteria in the mucus of the Red Sea coral Fungia scutaria. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol.  58:99-108.

Enticknap, J. J., A. Place and R. T. Hill.  2006.  Microbial diversity associated with odor modification for production of fertilizers from chicken litter. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.  72:4105-4114.

Newman, D. J and R. T. Hill.  2006.  New drugs from marine microbes: The tide is turning.  J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 33: 539 – 544.

Enticknap, J. J., M. Kelly Shanks, O. Peraud, and R. T. Hill.  2006.  Characterization of a culturable alphaproteobacterial symbiont common to many marine sponges and evidence for vertical transmission through the germline. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.  72:3724-3732.

Montalvo, N. F., N. M. Mohamed, J. J. Enticknap and R. T. Hill.  2005.  Novel actinobacteria from marine sponges.  Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.  87:29-36.  Special volume on marine actinomycetes.

Lohr, J. E., F. Chen and R. T. Hill.  2005.  Genomic analysis of bacteriophage JL001: Insights into its interaction with a sponge-associated alpha-proteobacterium. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71:1598-1609.

Teaching

Fall 2009. Microbial and Environmental Genomics MEES608G. Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science. University of Maryland College Park Graduate Program. Course Instructors: F. Chen and R. T. Hill. This seminar course will focus on the latest development in the areas of microbial genomics, functional genomics, and environmental genomics.

Spring 2010. Marine Microbial Ecology MEES608L. Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science. University of Maryland College Park Graduate Program. Course Instructors: R. T. Hill and F. Chen. The seminar course focuses on recent papers in molecular microbial ecology.

Spring 2010.  Intensive course in “Marine Biotechnology” for senior undergraduates and graduate students at Ruppin Academic Center, Michmoret, Israel.  Co-taught with Prof. Yonathan Zohar.

Please check the University of Maryland MEES Program course listing for further details.

Current Funded Projects:

Biodiversity conservation and drug discovery in Madagascar. Russell T. Hill (Associate Program Leader); David G. I. Kingston (PI).  NIH International Cooperative Biodiversity Group.  $975,314 (Hill) of $4,229,678.  Period covered: 9/1/08-5/31/13

Biodiversity conservation and drug discovery in Madagascar (Postdoctoral Supplement).  Russell T. Hill (Associate Program Leader); David G. I. Kingston (PI).  NIH International Cooperative Biodiversity Group.  $232,400 (Hill). Period covered: 11/1/09-10/31/12

Symbionts and signaling: Quorum sensing among sponge-associated bacteria. Clay Fuqua (PI), Russell T. Hill (co-PI), and Mair Churchill (co-PI). National Science Foundation Microbial Observatories Program, Microbial Interactions and Processes (MCB-0703467).  $499,610 (Hill $216,050). Period covered: 09/01/07-08/31/10                                     

The role of bacterial symbionts of marine sponges in nitrogen fixation.  Russell T. Hill (PI).  NSF Physiological and Structural Systems (PSS), Division of Integrative and Organismal Systems (IOS).  $498,583. The role of bacterial symbionts of marine sponges in nitrogen fixation. Period covered: 09/01/09-08/31/12

More about Dr. Hill.