PhD, California Institute of Technology
BA, Johns Hopkins University
Area(s) of Expertise
Prof. Bergman studies the sensory physiology of microorganisms—how bacteria and fungi respond to various chemical and physical signals in their environment. Although the basic mechanisms of this behavior have received considerable attention in recent years, little is known of its role in microbial ecology. Work in Prof. Bergman’s laboratory has shown that motility and chemotaxis are used by Rhizobium meliloti during the infection of alfalfa roots, which eventually leads to symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Prof. Bergman’s lab is refining our understanding of this phenomenon by using wild type and mutant cells labeled with green fluorescent protein to view the earliest steps in the infection process. New studies involve isolation of compounds from alfalfa root extracts, which attract rhizobia, analysis of the flagellar and the chemotaxis genes by various techniques (including transposon mutagenesis, transduction, gene cloning, and sequencing), and measurements of motility and chemotaxis in soil.
Prof. Bergman is the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for Biology. In this role he has developed an NSF sponsored project to assess learning using student-created electronic portfolios.
413 Mugar Life Sciences Building