Germaine Gogel - Colgate University - Faculty Directory

Colgate Directory

Germaine Gogel

Germaine Gogel

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Chemistry, 101 Wynn Hall
p 315-228-7236


BS (1974), Purdue University; MS (1976), PhD (1979), Northwestern University

Research Interests

Metabolic activity in photosynthetic bacteria; Structure/function relationships in chlorophyll-binding proteins.

Teaching Experience

  • CHEM 101 and 102: General Chemistry I and II
  • CHEM 353: Proteins and Nucleic Acids
  • CHEM 385: Biophysical Chemistry Methods
  • CHEM 452: Metabolic Chemistry
  • CHEM 454: Bioenergetics
  • CHEM 468: Medicinal Chemistry
  • CORE 136S: Critical Analysis of Health Issues: Cancer
  • ENST 391Y (or NASC 391Y): Energy and Environment in Wales and the UK
  • UNST 335Y: Health and Healing Practices in Australia: Traditional Healing and Post-Colonial Adaptations


Biochemistry, proteins, metabolism

Professional Experience

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate at Cornell University (1980) with Aaron Lewis, Applied & Engineering Physics

  • Visiting Research Associate at University College London (1985) with Jim Barber in Pure & Applied Biology and at The Medical College of Virginia (1989) with George DeVries in the Department of Biochemistry

  • Special Volunteer at The National Institutes of Health (2001) with Florence Davidson in the National Cancer Institute

  • Led Study Abroad semesters to Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales (1988, 2003), The National Institutes of Health (2001, 2011) in Bethesda, MD, and the University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia (2013)

Products and Publications

G. E. Gogel, “Guided inquiry sessions to supplement a large lecture course: aiding and retaining struggling students,” 23th Biennial Conf. on Chemical Educ. Proceedings (2014), in press

G. E. Gogel, “Using guided inquiry sessions to supplement a traditional general chemistry lecture.” 20th Biennial Conf. on Chemical Educ. Proceedings (2008), 323.

G. E. Gogel, H. March*, A. Friedrich* and P. Schwartz*, “Chemical Modification of Tryptophans and Lysines in the B880 Light-Harvesting Protein of Rhodospirillum rubrum,” Progress in Photosynthesis Research (1987), 2, 29-32.

Gogel, G.E., N.J. Russell, and J. Harwood, “Changes in Fatty Acid Synthesis During Temperature Adaptation in Rhodobacter sphaeroides,” Biochemical Society Transactions (1989), 17, 689-690.

P. A. Millner, G. Gogel and J. Barber, “Investigation of the Spatial Relationships between Photosystem II Polypeptides by Reversible Cross-Linking and Diagonal Electrophoresis,” Photosyn. Res. (1987), 13, 185-198.

G. E. Gogel, M. Michalski*, H. March*, S. Coyle* and L. Gentile*, “Covalent Modification of Lysines of the B880 Light-Harvesting Protein of Rhodospirillum rubrum,” Biochemistry (1986), 25, 7105-7109.

G. E. Gogel and P.A. Millner, “Chemical Cross-Linking of Photosystem II Particles and Removal of Polypeptides by Salt and Alkaline Tris Washing,” Biochem. Soc. Trans. (1986), 14, 43-44.

(Asterisks indicate undergraduate student co-authors who conducted their research in collaboration with a faculty member at Colgate.)


NSF S-STEM Grant (PI) 2007-14, NIH Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship 1989, NIH Academic Research Enhancement Award 1988-91, Research Corporation Grant 1983, NIH Postdoctoral Research Fellowship 1980

Current Research Projects

My research probes the biochemistry of photosynthetic bacteria, especially the functions of their membranes, and in particular, the proteins associated with their membranes. The earliest forms of photosynthetic bacteria are anoxygenic and evolved long before oxygenic (oxygen producing) forms (Blankenship 2010). One of the six types of simple photosynthetic prokaryotes is purple non-sulfur bacteria. Some of my research projects utilize Rhodospirillum rubrum, a gram-negative purple, non-sulfur photosynthetic bacteria found in ponds, lakes, streams, and standing water (Reslewic et al. 2005) and also in mud and sewage (Madigan et al. 2000). These bacteria are facilitative anaerobes which are capable of growing aerobically (non-photosynthetically), consuming carbon compounds in an oxygen atmosphere, or anaerobically by using light as its energy source and fixing carbon dioxide, i.e. photosynthetic growth (Madigan et al. 2000).

Figure 1

Cyanobacteria (formerly referred to as blue-green algae) are a more advanced type of photosynthetic prokaryote. They are the oldest oxygenic photosynthetic organisms and evolved from the simpler photosynthetic bacteria (Govindjee and Shevela 2011). Oxygen produced by cyanobacteria accumulated to significant levels in Earth’s atmosphere about 2.4 billion years ago (Falkowski 2011), creating an aerobic atmosphere and the ozone layer that allowed for the evolution of advanced aerobic life, i.e. multicellular organisms that consume oxygen. Additionally, cyanobacteria served as the evolutionary precursor to chloroplasts in algae, and consequently in all plants (Bjorn and Govindjee 2009). Some of my research projects investigate metabolic processes in cyanobacteria.

Figure 2

Figure 3
My two current research areas are:

Effects of heavy metal ions on cyanobacteria
Many ions of heavy metals (any metal denser than iron) have been found in high concentrations in water discharged at mining sites and industrial and urban waste sites and pose a threat to public health. Wastewater treatment plants and bioremediation projects aim to remove the metal ions from the water. (Micheletti et al. 2008).

Cyanobacteria require small concentrations of some metal cations such as Cu, Zn, Ni, and Fe which are essential components of some enzymes in metabolic processes. The bacteria adsorb metal ions by non-specific processes which utilize sites on their extensive cell walls and also take ions into the cytoplasm using specific processes which involve transporter proteins in the cell membrane. Cyanobacteria can also extrude metal ions using protein pumps when the internal metal concentration becomes too high. (Andrews et al. 2003; Cavet et al. 2003; Baptista and Vasconcelos 2006; Mulrooney and Hausinger 2003). Biomass from cyanobacteria and the growth of cyanobacteria in industrial waste and sewage have both been explored as a cost-effective method of removing heavy metal ions from wastewater. (El-Sheekh et al. 2005, Rangsayatorn et al. 2002, Chojnacka et al. 2004)

We are studying the effects of elevated concentrations of Cu, Ni, and Cr ions on several species of cyanobacteria. The potential of the cyanobacteria for non-specific adsorption of the heavy metal ions, the effect of the heavy metal ions on the growth of the species, and the specific uptake of different heavy metal ions are being explored.
Metabolism of glyphosate (the primary chemical in Roundup™ by Monsanto) by photosynthetic bacteria.
Glyphosate (chemical name N-[phosphonomethyl]glycine) is the primary chemical ingredient in the non-specific herbicide Roundup™. Many genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been engineered by Monsanto to be resistant to glyphosate, and 180 to 185 million pounds of Roundup™ were used to kill weeds in fields of GMO crops in the US, 5 to 8 million pounds were used on lawns and gardens, and 13 to 15 million pounds were used by industries and municipalities in 2007. (US EPA 2007) In plants, glyphosate acts by inhibiting the enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimic acid-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase and disrupts the shikimic acid pathway (Duke and Powles 2008). The EPSP synthase deficiency results in reduction of the aromatic amino acids necessary for protein synthesis and plant growth (Glyphosate Technical Fact Sheet; Banaszkiewicz et al. 2012). The EPSP synthase enzyme inhibited by glyphosate is unique to plants, algae, and some microorganisms and is not present in mammals (Duke and Powles 2008).

Herbicides which contain glyphosate are applied by spraying an aqueous solution. Glyphosate is absorbed by the plant through the leaves and roots and is also deposited in the soil and found in aqueous run-off (Banaszkiewicz et al. 2012). Glyphosate adsorbs to soil particles, and some species of soil micro-organisms, but not all, have been shown to degrade glyphosate (Huang et al. 2005). Plants can slowly degrade a limited amount of glyphosate using an oxidative pathway, some extrusion of glyphosate occurs through the plant roots, and glyphosate and its degradation products also accumulate in glyphosate-resistant plants (Duke 2011; Reddy et al. 2008). The degradation pathway for glyphosate is shown below in Figure 4.


Click to view citations
Andrews, S. C.; Robinson, A. K.; Rodriguez-Quinones, F. “Bacterial iron homeostasis.” FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 2003, 27, 215-237.

Banaszkiewicz, T.; andWysocki, K. "Application of White Mustard (Sinapis alba) Biotest in the Assessment of Environmental Contamination by Glyphosate." Polish Journal of Environmental Studies 2012, 21.5, 1161-66.

Baptista, M. S.; Vasconcelos, M. T. “Cyanobacteria Metal Interactions: Requirements, Toxicity, and Ecological Implications.” Crit. Rev. Microbiol. 2006, 32, 127-137.

Blankenship, R. E., Early Evolution of Photosynthesis. Plant Physiology 2010, 154, 434-438.

Cavet, J. S.; Borrelly, G. P. M.; Robinson, N. J. “Zn, Cu, and Co in cyanobacteria: selective control of metal availability.” FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 2003, 27, 165-181.

Chojnacka, K.; Chojnacki, A.; Gorecka, H. “Biosorption of Cr3+, Cd2+ and Cu2+ by blue-green algae Spirulina sp.: kinetics, equilibrium and ions the mechanism of the process.” Chemosphere 2005, 59, 75-84.

Druart, C.,; Delhomme, O.; De Vaufleury, A.; Ntcho, E.; Millet, M. “Optimization of Extraction Procedure and Chromatographic Separation of Glyphosate and Aminomethylphosphonic Acid in Soil.” Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 2011, 399, 1725-32.

Duke, S. O. “Glyphosate Degradation in Glyphosate-Resistant and -Susceptible Crops and Weeds.” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2011, 59, 5835-5841.

Duke, S. O.; Powles, S. “Glyphosate: a once-in-a-century herbicide: Mini-review.” Pest Manag. Sci. 2008, 64, 319–325.

El-Sheekh, M. M.; El-Shouny, W. A.; Osman, M. E. H.; El-Gammal, E. W. E. “Growth and heavy metals removal efficiency of Nostoc muscorum and Anabaena subcylindrica in sewage and industrial wastewater effluents.” Environ. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 2005, 19, 615-621.

US EPA 2007 Pesticide Market Estimates: Agriculture, Home and Garden.
Falkowski, P. G. “The biological and geological contingencies for the rise of oxygen on Earth.” Photosynth. Res. 2011, 107, 7-10.

Glyphosate Technical Fact Sheet. National Pesticide Information Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Govindjee and Shevela, D. “Adventures with cyanobacteria: a personal perspective” Front. Plant Sci. 2011, 2:28, 1-17.

Huang, J.; Su, Z.; Xu, Y; “The Evolution of Microbial Phosphonate Degradative Pathways.” J. Mol. Evol. 2005, 61, 682-690.

Kelvinsong, Comparison between a chloroplast and cyanobacterium. From, 2013.

Madigan, M. T.; Martinko, J. M.; Parker, J. Brock Biology of Microorganisms. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Micheletti, E.; Colica, G.; Viti, C.; Tamagnini, P.; De Phillippis, R. “Selectivity in the heavy metal removal by exopolysaccharide-producing cyanobacteria.” J. Appl. Microbiol. 2008, 105, 88-94.

Mulrooney, S. B.; Hausinger, R. P. “Nickel uptake and utilization by microorganisms.” FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 2003, 27, 239-261.

Rangsayatorn, N.; Upatham, E. S.; Kruatrachu, M.; Pokethitiyook, P.; Lanza, G. R. “Phytoremediation potential of Spirulina (Arthrospira) platensis: biosorption and toxicity studies of cadmium.” Environ. Pollut. 2002, 119, 45-53.

Reddy, K. M.; Rimando, S. M.; Duke, S. O.; Nandula, V. K. “Aminomethylphosphonic acid accumulation in plant species treated with glyphosate.” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56, 2125-2130.

Reslewic, S., et al. “Whole Genome Shotgun Optical Mapping of Rhodospirillum rubrum.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2005, 71, 5511-22.