Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Penn State Science
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J. Gregory Ferry

J. Gregory Ferry

Main Content

  • Stanley Person Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
308B Althouse Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-5721


Research Summary

We study the enzymology and molecular biology of anaerobic microbes from the Archaea domain.   Anaerobes--microbes living without oxygen--comprise nearly one-fourth of all living protoplasm on earth and are found in a variety of habitats. They are found in animals and plants that are healthy or diseased, such as:

  • human, animal, and plant infections

  • the rumen of cattle

  • the intestines of humans and other monogastric animals

Anaerobes in the environment convert biomass to methane in a process that is critical to the global carbon cycle. The anaerobic decomposition of biomass to methane and carbon dioxide occurs in vast and diverse anaerobic habitats such as:

  • deep-sea hydrothermal vents
  • marine and freshwater sediments
  • rice paddies and other agricultural environments

The process of methanogenesis impacts the environment and human health in other important ways:

  • biologically produced methane is a major component of greenhouse gases
  • the process is used commercially to dispose of domestic and industrial wastes
  • many anaerobes are able to detoxify hazardous pesticides, and
  • methane from renewable biomass is a clean-burning alternative energy source.

Our research on ancient enzymes from the Archaea is contributing to an understanding of the origin and evolution of life and directly impacts the emerging field of Astrobiology.

Novel gamma class of carbonic anhydrase from the archaea.

Novel gamma class of carbonic anhydrase from the archaea


Selected Publications

  • Kumar, V.K., J.G. Ferry and C.D. Maranas. 2011. Metabolic reconstruction of the archaeon methanogen Methanosarcina acetivorans. BMC Systems Biology 5:28.
  • Kumar, A.K., N.H. Yennawar, H.P. Yennawar and J.G. Ferry. 2011. Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic analysis of a novel plant type FTR-like protein from Methanosarcina acetivorans. Acta Crystallographica Section F 67:775-778.
  • Ferry, J. G. 2010. The γ class of carbonic anhydrase. Biochimica Biophysica Acta 1804:374-381.
  • Zimmerman, S. A., Tomb, J.-F. and J. G. Ferry. 2010. Characterization of CamH from Methanosarcina thermophila, founding member of a subclass of the γ class of carbonic anhydrases. Journal of Bacteriology 192:1353-1360.
  • Reichlen, M. J., Murakami, K. S. and J. G. Ferry. 2010. Functional analysis of the three TBP homologs in Methanosarcina acetivorans.  Journal of Bacteriology 192:1511-1517.
  • Ferry, J. G. 2010.  CO in Methanogenesis.  Annals of Microbiology. 60:1-12.
  • Ferry, J. G. 2010.  The Chemical Biology of Methanogenesis. Planetary and Space Science. In press.
  • Ferry, J. G. 2009.  Biochemistry of Acetotrophic Methanogenesis, p. 357-367. In Timmis, K. N. (ed.), Microbiology of Hydrocarbons, Oils, Lipids. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg.
  • Zafar, M., F. Tasca, G. Lo, E. Patridge, J. Ferry, G. Noell. 2009. Tryptophan repressor-binding proteins from Escherichia coli and Archaeoglobus fulgidus as new catalysts for 1,4-dihydronicotinamide adenine dinucleotide-dependent amperometric biosensors and biofuel cells.  Analytical Chemistry 81:4082-4088.
  • Doerfert, S. N., M. Reichlen, P. Iyer, M. Wang, and J. G. Ferry.  2009.  Isolation and characterization of Methanolobus zinderi sp. nov., a methylotrophic methanogen isolated from a deep subsurface coal seam.  International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 59:1064-1069.
  • MacAuley, S. R., S. A. Zimmerman, E. E. Apolinario, C. Evilia, Y. Hou, J. G. Ferry, and K. R. Sowers. 2009. The archetype γ-class carbonic anhydrase (Cam) contains iron when synthesized in vivo.  Biochemistry 48:817-819.
  • Suharti, S., K. Murakami, S. de Vries, and J. G. Ferry.  2008.  Structural and biochemical characterization of flavoredoxin from the archaeon Methanosarcina acetivorans.  Biochemistry 47:11528-11535.