The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Jeffrey Blanchard

Associate Professor

Research areas include natural microbials for digestive health, improving biofuel production using C. phytofermentans (Cphy) and microbial consortia, increasing rates of fiber degradation and plant carbohydrate transport, function of novel bacterial microcompartments, global warming and forest soil microbiomes, and development of new methods for metagenomics and metatranscriptomics.

Current Research
Microbiome research is among the most exciting and promising areas of science today due to many technological advances, particular in high throughput DNA and RNA sequencing, that allow us to determine in complex environments which microbes are present and their metabolism. A prominent component of our research is using genomic and computational methods to understand the ecology and evolution of gut and forest soil microbiomes. Our laboratory is set up for standard molecular biology and microbial physiology research and contains specialized equipment for isolating and culturing anaerobic bacteria. The research we do has led to the discovery of new bacterial species and metabolic processes that have have far ranging impacts from developing probiotics to understanding climate change.

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Academic Background

  • AS Vermont Technical College, 1983
  • BS Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1987
  • PhD University of Georgia, 1995
  • Postdoctoral Training: University of Oregon, 1995-1998
  • Postdoctoral Training: Promega Corporation, 1998-1999
Biddle AS, Leschine S, Huntemann M, Han J, Chen A, Kyrpides N, Markowitz V, Palaniappan K, Ivanova N, Mikhailova N, Ovchinnikova G, Schaumberg A, Pati A, Stamatis D, Reddy T, Lobos E, Goodwin L, Nordberg HP, Cantor MN, Hua SX, Woyke T, Blanchard JL (2014). The complete genome sequence of Clostridium indolis. Standards in Genome Sciences. Mar;9(3)
Sun Z, Blanchard JL (2014) Strong genome-wide selection early in the evolution of Prochlorococcus resulted in a reduced genome through the loss of a large number of small effect genes. PLOS ONE. 9(3):e88837
Mukherjee S, Thompson LK, Godin S, Schackwitz W, Lipzen A, Martin J, Blanchard, JL (2014) Population level analysis of evolved mutations underlying improvements in plant cellulose and hemicellulose fermentation by Clostridium phytofermentans. PLOS ONE. 9(1):e86731
Biddle AS, Black SJ, Blanchard JL (2013) An in vitro model of the horse gut microbiome enables identification of lactate-utilizing bacteria that differentially respond to starch induction. PLOS ONE. PLoS ONE 8(10): e77599
Abdul-Rahman F, Petit E, Blanchard JL (2013) The Distribution of Polyhedral Bacterial Microcompartments Suggests Frequent Horizontal Transfer and Operon Reassembly. J Phylogen Evolution Biol. 1:e118
Petit E, Latouf W, Coppi M, Currie D, Rhomasko I, Desphande S, Haas K, Alvelo-Maurosa JG, Wardman C, Schnell D, Leschine L, Blanchard J (2013) Involvement of a bacterial microcompartment in the metabolism of fucose and rhamnose by Clostridium phytofermentans. PLoS One. 8(1):e54337.
Hu J, Blanchard JL (2009) Environmental sequence data from the Sargasso Sea reveal that the characteristics of genome reduction in Prochlorococcus are not a harbinger for an escalation in genetic drift. Molecular Biology and Evolution. Jan;26(1):5-13.
Blanchard JL, Chen W, Conlon EM, Pomposiello PJ. (2007) Rapid changes in gene expression dynamics in response to superoxide reveal SoxRS-dependent and independent transcriptional networks. PLoS ONE. 2(11):e1186
Contact Info

Department of Biology
N571 Life Sciences Laboratories
240 Thatcher Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9292

(413) 577-2130