James Preston


Department of Microbiology and Cell Science University of Florida

Ph.D.:(1967) Department of Biochemistry, University of Minnesota
Postdoctoral:(1967-1969) Department of Microbiology, Yale University School of Medicine

Contact Information


Teaching Interests

Undergraduate and graduate instruction is provided in areas relating to microbial biotechnology. Lectures and laboratory exercises are designed to provide students with experience in experimental design and the application of current techniques and instrumentation to solve problems in the areas of microbial biochemistry, genetics, and physiology.

Current instructional activity:

MCB 5458, Energy Transformations in Microorganisms. The philosophy of this course is to provide advanced undergraduate and graduate students with exposure to the experimental basis for our current concepts of metabolic potential in microorganisms.

PCB 5136L, Techniques in Microbial and Cell Biology. The philosophy of this course is to provide students with a rigorous exposure to experimental design and instrumental analysis in the general area of microbial biochemistry.

MCB 6409. Microbial Cell Structure and Function. , 3 credits, 6 to 10 students, 3 meetings per week, split with three to four other faculty. The philosophy of this course is to expose students to current approaches to solving research problems in the areas of expertise of some of the graduate faculty in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Science. This course serves first and second year students in the Department and other graduate students from other Departments, e.g. Plant Pathology, Entomology and Nematology, Animal Science, who have interest in research projects related to Microbiology.

MCB 4905. Undergraduate Research. The philosophy or teaching objective for this course is to identify and supervise a research project that is able to challenge an undergraduate student to design and execute experiments that provide credible data for interpretation. The student is expected to complete a defined research project over the course of two to four semesters, and to prepare a research paper describing the results in a format for publication.

 Description of Research

1) Selection of bacterial enzymes for the depolymerization of plant biomass and its fermentative conversion to alternative fuels and bio-based products. Cloning and expression of endoxylanases in bacterial biocatalysts for conversion of glucuronoxylan polymers of the hemicellulose fraction of hardwoods and crop residues to alternative fuels and biobased products.

2) Evolution of molecular mechanisms involved in obligate parasitic relationships of Pasteuria spp. with phytopathogenic nematodes and claderocerans. The goal of this effort is to develop protocols to apply Pasteuria spp. as alternatives to chemical nematicides for the control of root-knot and other phytopathogenic nematodes.  3) Molecular mechanisms associated with formation of bacterial biofilms.  Formation and function of Beta-1,6-poly-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine in bacteria, including plant pathogenic species of Xanthomonas, e.g. the causative agents of citrus canker (X. axonopodis pv. citri) and bacterial spot on pepper and tomato (X. vesicatoria).

Publications in Pub Med

Professional Activities

  • Undergraduate Coordinator 1978 to 1980.
  • Graduate Coordinator 1990 to 1991; 2003 to 2005. University of Florida Graduate Council 1985
  • Editorial Board. Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 1996-2001.
  • Editorial Board. Journal of Bacteriology. 2005-present.
  • Faculty Advisory Committee to the Vice President of IFAS, 2002-2004.
  • University Senate 2001-2003.
  • University of Florida Research Foundation Professor 2005-2008.

Selected Publications

Bi C, Zhang X, Ingram LO, Preston JF., Genetic engineering of Enterobacter asburiae strain JDR-1 for efficient production of ethanol from hemicellulose hydrolysates. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009 Sep; 75 (18):5743-9.

St John FJ, Godwin DK, Preston JF, Pozharski E, Hurlbert JC., Crystallization and crystallographic analysis of Bacillus subtilis xylanase C.,Acta Crystallogr Sect F Struct Biol Cryst Commun. 2009 May 1; 65 (Pt 5):499-503.

Nong G, Rice JD, Chow V., Preston JF., Aldouronate utilization in Paenibacillus sp. strain JDR-2: Physiological. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009 Jul; 75 (13):4410-8.

Qi W, Nong G, Preston JF, Ben-Ami F, Ebert D., Comparative metagenomics of Daphnia symbionts., BMC Genomics. 2009 Apr 21;10:172.

Bi C, Rice JD, Preston JF., Complete fermentation of xylose and methylglucuronoxylose derived from methylglucuronoxylan by Enterobacter asburiae strain JDR-1. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009 Jan;75 (2):395-404.

Itoh Y, Rice JD, Goller C, Pannuri A, Taylor J, Meisner J, Beveridge TJ, Preston JF 3rd, Romeo T., Roles of pgaABCD genes in synthesis, modification, and export of the Escherichia coli biofilm adhesin poly-beta-1,6-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine. J Bacteriol. 2008 May;190(10):3670-80.

Schmidt LM, Mouton L, Nong G, Ebert D, Preston JF., Genetic and immunological comparison of the cladoceran parasite Pasteuria ramosa with the nematode parasite Pasteuria penetrans., Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Jan;74 (1):259-64.

Chow V, Nong G, Preston JF., Structure, function, and regulation of the aldouronate utilization gene cluster from Paenibacillus sp. strain JDR-2. J Bacteriol. 2007 Dec;189 (24):8863-70.

Nong G, Chow V, Schmidt LM, Dickson DW, Preston JF., Multiple-strand displacement and identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms as markers of genotypic variation of Pasteuria penetrans biotypes infecting root-knot nematodes. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2007 Aug; 61(2):327-36.

St. John, F. J., J.D. Rice, J. F. Preston. 2006. Paenibacillus sp. JDR-2 and XynA1: a novel system for methylglucuronoxylan utilization. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 72:1496-1506

Gutierrez, T., L.O. Ingram, and J.F. Preston. 2006. Purification and characterization of a furfural reductase (FFR) from Escherichia coli strain LY01: an enzyme important in the detoxification of furfural during ethanol production. J. Biotechnol. 121: 154-164.

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