Project Description

Janelle R. Thompson

Visiting Assistant Professor

Research Interests: environmental microbiology


Parsons Laboratory
Room 48-331
15 Vassar Street
Cambridge, MA, 02139

Telephone: 617.324.5268
Assistant: Darlene Strother /
Research Website:


  • B.S. 1998, Stanford University
  • M.S. 1999, Stanford University
  • Ph.D. 2005, MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Research Interests

We are interested in understanding the relationship between the structure of microbial communities and their function. We are employing the tools of molecular biology, genomics, and genetics to identify the components of microbial communities, and to study their dynamics, interactions, and organization. Linking the activities of microbes to their genomic content and population structure is a critical step towards manipulating microbial systems for human benefit, be it pollution degradation or protection against pathogens.

Teaching Interests

  • 1.083 – Environmental Health Engineering
  • 1.89 – Environmental Microbiology

Selected Publications

  1. Thompson, J. R. and M. F. Polz. Dynamics of Vibrio populations and their role in environmental nutrient cycles. The Biology of Vibrios. American Society of Microbiology Press (2006)
  2. Luyten, Y. A., Thompson, J. R., Polz, M. F., and D. L. Distel. Symbiont community composition varies among members of a single host population of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) Appl Environ Microbiol. (2006) 72(1):412-7.
  3. Thompson, J. R., Pacocha, S. E., Pharino, C., Klepac-Ceraj, V., Benoit, J., Sarma-Rupavtarm, R., Distel, D. L., and M. F. Polz. Genotypic Diversity within a Natural Coastal Bacterioplankton Population. Science (2005) 307(5713):1311-1313
  4. Thompson, J. R., Randa, M. A., Marcelino, L. A., Tomita-Mitchell, A., and M. F. Polz. Diversity and Dynamics of a North Atlantic Vibrio Community. Appl Environ Microbiol (2004) 70(7)4130-4110.
  5. Thompson, J. R., Marcelino, L. A., and M. F. Polz. Heteroduplexes in Mixed-Template Amplifications: formation, consequence and elimination by ‘reconditioning PCR’. Nucleic Acids Res. (2002) 30(9)2083-2088.