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Thomas Hanson



I am a microbiologist that is interested in developing a better understanding of microbial physiology: how microbes harvest energy and materials from their environment to reproduce. In the course of acquiring energy and materials, microbes catalyze lots of chemical transformations.  Since microbes are among the most abundant forms of biomass on the planet, these chemical transformations have global significance.  Thus, microbial physiology is intimately tied to biogeochemistry. Some microbes I have worked on include methanotrophic bacteria that consume the flammable greenhouse gas methane and filamentous cyanobacteria that harvest light and use the energy to fix CO2 into biomass plus converting N2 to NH3 all while producing O2.  More recently, I have focused on microbes that interact with group VIa elements: primarily S, but also Se, Te, and Po.  My lab currently focuses on anaerobic phototrophic bacteria and how they extract electrons from reduced forms of sulfur: HS-, S2O32-, and S(0). My research uses a wide variety of techniques including both molecular and classical microbiology, various "-omics", bioinformatics, and analytical chemistry. This research has been generously supported by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy,  German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Delaware EPSCoR, and the University of Delaware Research Foundation.

Department Affiliation

Marine Biosciences

Current Research

Biogenic S(0) metabolism in a phototrophic bacterium (NSF-MCB-1244373).  This project is in collaboration with Clara Chan's group in Geological Sciences. We seek to understand molecular mechanisms that determine how the model phototrophic bacterium Chlorobaculum tepidum both forms and consumes insoluble inorganic S(0).  This project employs techniques ranging from microbial molecular genetics, transcriptomics, proteomics coupled with high-resolution imaging and elemental analysis methods.


PhD, Microbiology, University of California Davis, 1998
B.S., Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1992

Selected Publications

Levy AT, Lee KH, Hanson TE., Chlorobaculum tepidum modulates amino acid composition in response to energy availability, as revealed by a systematic exploration of the energy landscape of phototrophic sulfur oxidation. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2016 Aug 26. pii: AEM.02111-16. 

Shuman KE, Hanson TE., A sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase from Chlorobaculum tepidum displays unusual kinetic properties. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2016 Jun;363(12). pii: fnw100. doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnw100

Wang L, Lim CK, Dang H, Hanson TE, Klotz MG. D1FHS, the Type Strain of the Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacterium Nitrosococcus wardiae spec. nov.: Enrichment, Isolation, Phylogenetic, and Growth Physiological Characterization. Front Microbiol. 2016 Apr 14;7:512. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00512

My publications in PubMed can be found here.


Serendipity, Sulfur bacteria, and Open Science: interview with Tom Hanson
Posted October 12, 2016 by michielbdijkstra in Science


Science for Sustainability from Frontiers on Vimeo.

Microbial sulfur metabolism

Overview of sulfur metabolism research in Hanson lab


• Marine Ecology• Marine Genomics• Molecular Ecology• Geobiology• Physiological Ecology


CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

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College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment • 111 Robinson Hall • Newark, DE 19716 • USA • Phone: 302-831-2841
Geography: 302-831-2294 • Geology: 302-831-2569 • Marine Science and Policy: 302-645-4212 • E-mail: ceoe-info@udel.edu

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