John Thomas, Ph.D.

Professor of Biological Sciences
John Thomas
College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
Natural Sciences

Teaching Areas:

Biological Sciences, Master of Science in Environmental Science

Research Areas:

Genetics, Molecular Biology

Biography and Education


Ph.D    Genetics (minor Biochemistry):  Dec. 1986  Dissertation Title “The Consequences of Bromodeoxyuridine Treatment in Plant Tissue Cultures (Regeneration, Replication)” The Genetics Committee, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.  USA.  Advisor: Dr. Frank Katterman.

M.S.    Genetics:  May 1980  Thesis Title: “Isolation, Purification, and Culture of Anther Callus Protoplasts from Gossypium hirsutum.”  Genetics Committee, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. USA.  Advisor: Dr. Frank Katterman.                                                                                                                    

B.S. Biology (Cum Laude):  May 1977  Biology Department, American University, Washington, D.C. USA.  Advisor: Dr. Richard Wrathall.

Teaching and Research

Courses Taught


I am interested in strategies to degrade polystyrene (Styrofoam), avert heavy metal stress, and promote phytoremediation of organic pollutants.  We are also developing the use of nuisance plants (weeds) as pollution indicators.  My laboratory also has projects in establishing safe and effective bioinsecticides to protect crop plants. 

Polystyrene Degradation by Environmental Microbes:  By using external manipulation of polystyrene nanoparticles, several microbes have been isolated and characterized which can convert the polymer to a carbon source for growth.  Defense will be Summer 2023, MSES Thesis.  Besides JCT, Committee members are:  Dr. Simona Marincien, Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Michigan-Dearborn) and Dr. Gregory M. Colores, Professor of Microbiology, Central Michigan University.  

Nickel Stress and the Efflux of Metals by the Ice Plant and Tobacco:  Following nickel stress, the efflux of metals by a glycophyte (tobacco) and a facultative halophyte Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (The Ice Plant) were compared.  Anthony Cieri’s thesis will be defended by Summer 2023, MESE Thesis.   Besides JCT, Committee members are:  Dr. Kent Murray, Professor of Geology,  University of Michigan-Dearborn and Dr. Thomas Bianchette, Assistant Professor of Geology, Department of Chemistry, Oakland University.

Introducing Genes into Wild Carrot (Daucus carota), Queen Anne’s Lace.  Following domestication and selective breeding of carrot, genomic variation has become limited in available agricultural varieties.  By learning how to modify the Wild Carrot genome, we may will provide a strategy to employ this nuisance species for environmental contaminant detection (metals and possible organic pollutants) and provide new insight into previously lost genetic diversity. 

Selected Publications

Recent Publications (See Goggle Scholar for citations and full list)

  1.  Grace A, Rowe K, Bayz K, and JC Thomas (2023) The 90bp CaMV 35S Promoter is activated by Protoplast Culture, 5-Azacytidine, and Salicylic Acid (In Preparation).
  2. Thomas JC, Russell DK, and Rugh CL (2017) PAH phytoremediation stimulated by root exudates.  International Journal of Environmental Bioremediation & Biodegradation 5(1): 1-7. DOI: 10.12691/ijebb-5-1-1
  3. Auner AW, Thomas JC (2016) Double-stranded DNA damage assessed with Raman spectroscopy. Biochemistry and Analytical Biochemistry 5: 284-290.  doi:10.4172/2161-1009.1000284
  4. Mifsud DA, Thomas JC  (2013) Persistence of herpetofauna in the urbanized Rouge River ecosystem. Open Journal of Ecology 3 (3), 234-241.
  5. Thomas JC, Cable E, Dabkowski RT, Gargala S, McCall D, Pangrazzi G, Pierson A, Ripper M, Russell DK, Rugh CL (2012) Native Michigan plants stimulate soil microbial species changes and PAH remediation at a legacy steel mill.  International Journal of Phytoremediation. 15(5): 1-15.
  6. Thomas JC, Dabkowski, RT (2011) Glucose and plant exudate enhanced enumeration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon - degrading bacteria.  Canadian J Microbiology 57(12): 1067-1072.