Roberta Fulthorpe

Roberta Fulthorpe
Emerita Professor
Telephone number
Building EV 460

Teaching Interests

  • EESB16H3S - Feeding Humans - The Cost to the Planet

Research Interest

The primary focus of my research is on the evolution of bacterial genes for the catabolism of chlorinated organic compounds. I am particularly interested in the mechanisms of genetic exchange that allow the construction of catabolic pathways, and the sharing of degradative capabilities by divergent species. I also have a keen interest in the biogeography of bacteria, something that was previously difficult to study. With the advent of molecular tools we are better able to study the geographic distributions of bacterial strains and their genes, and to ask questions about the links between bacteria and the ecosystems they function in. This has become more important now that chlorinated organic compounds have been proven to be more "natural" than we previously thought, and my research has demonstrated the abundance of chlorinated organic degrading bacteria in pristine ecosystems.

Awards and Grants

Fisher Award, Canadian Society of Microbiology (2002)


  • Febria, C., R.R. Fulthorpe and D.D. Williams. 2009. Characterizing seasonal changes in physicochemistry and bacterial community composition in hyporheic sediments of the Speed River, southern Ontario, Canada. Hydrobiologia, in press.
  • Fulthorpe, R. R. and Eva M. Top. 2009. Evolution of new catalytic functions through gene assembly by mobile genetic elements. Timmis, K and J. R. van der Meer (eds).: Microbiology of Hydrocarbons, Oils, Lipids and Derived Compounds. Springer.
  • Fulthorpe, Roberta R. and R.C. Wyndham. 1991. Transfer and expression of the catabolic plasmid pBRC60 in wild bacterial recipients in a freshwater ecosystem. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 57(5):1546-1553.
  • Fulthorpe, R.R., C. McGowan, O.V. Maltseva, W.H. Holben and J.M. Tiedje. 1995. 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid degrading bacteria: mosaics of catabolic genes. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 61(9):3274-3281.
  • Fulthorpe, R.R., A.N. Rhodes and J.M. Tiedje. 1996. Pristine soils mineralize 3-chlorobenzoate and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid via different microbial populations. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 62(4):1159-1166.

For more publications see: