Haygood Research Group


Welcome to the Haygood Research Group


The Haygood Research Group focuses on bioactive metabolite symbiosis, and iron acquisition by marine microbes. These areas may not seem related, at first, but both revolve around the amazing versatility of microbes as chemists, and their often-unrecognized ecological impact on marine environments.


Bioactive metabolite symbiosis

Symbiosis means different organisms living together; often this relationship allows the symbiotic system to be more successful than the partners would be individually. Familiar examples of microbial symbioses with larger creatures include animals that host photosynthetic microbes to make their food for them, such as corals. Very recently, we and others have begun to realize that symbiosis based, not on ordinary metabolism, such as photosynthesis, but biosynthesis of complex and unusual molecules, is an equally important phenomenon. The molecules microbes make for their hosts can defend them against enemies and disease, and many have potential as drugs to treat human ailments.



Iron acquisition by marine microbes

Long ago in the ancient world, before cyanobacteria evolved oxygenic photosynthesisand poisoned the world withoxygen, iron was plentiful in the oceans, where life was evolving. Because iron was abundant and is a versatile catalyst for biological reactions, life evolved many enzymes that contain iron. When oxygen levels rose, ironprecipitated as rust, and organisms that live in aerobic environments have been struggling to getenough iron for the last billion years. Marine microbes have a particularly difficult task since seawater has the lowest iron levels of any habitat on earth; lack of iron limits productivity in vast areas of the ocean. Scientists are beginning to believe that the molecules marine microbes make to bind iron have permeated the entire ocean, and these molecules are the only reason that enough iron remains dissolved to support photosynthesis by marine phytoplankton, a process that accounts for a major fraction of the planet’s capacity for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


Philippine Mollusk Symbiont International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (PMS-ICBG)

The scope of the Philippine Mollusk Symbiont International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (PMS-ICBG) includes biodiversity, drug discovery, biofuels and basic research. The focus is on bacteria associated with mollusks in one of the world's hotspots of diversity, the Philippines. The project aims to enhance conservation, research capability and economic development in the Philippines, while providing pharmaceutical and energy-related discoveries of worldwide value. Find out more.


Mailing Address:
Dr. Margo Haygood, Professor
Oregon Health & Science University
Institute of Environmental Health
Mail Code HRC3
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
Portland, OR 97239-3098

Phone Contact:
Office: 503-346-3437
Laboratory: 503-346-3434