Edward F. DeLong, PhD

Photo of Professor DeLong.





(617) 253-5271
Morton (1924) and Claire Goulder and Family Professor in Environmental Systems, Department of Biological Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Microbial Biodiversity
Microbial Metabolism
Remote and Continuous Sensing of Microbes
Ecosystem Modeling


Originally from California, Professor DeLong studied biology at Santa Rosa Junior College and obtained an A.S. degree. He continued his education at the University of California, Davis where he earned a B.S. degree in bacteriology. He subsequently moved to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he received a PhD. in marine biology after finishing doctoral work with Art Yayanos. DeLong completed his postdoctoral training at Indiana University in Bloomington with Norman Pace, where he surveyed communities of picoplankton via DNA sequencing. Before arriving at MIT, Professor DeLong was a professor at the University California, Santa Barbara and a senior scientist at Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. 


Microbial life has been integral to the history and function of life on Earth for over 3.5 billion years. As such, microbes have evolved to be the fundamental engines that drive the cycles of energy and matter on Earth, past and present. Additionally, microbes represent the single largest source of evolutionary and biochemical diversity on the planet. Despite their significance, our understanding of the evolution and ecology, and the structure and function of natural microbial communities is limited both conceptually and technologically. Yet the potential of this vast reservoir of genetic and biochemical diversity is enormous, from the perspective of both basic knowledge creation, as well as that of synthetic applications. For these reasons, a major focus of the DeLong lab centers on devising and applying new approaches to describe, quantify and model the complexity of natural microbial assemblages, in particular bacteria and archaea, and understand its natural significance and applied potential.

The DeLong lab is currently engaged in applying contemporary genomic technologies to dissect complex microbial assemblages. While biotic processes that occur within natural microbial communities are diverse and complex, much of this complexity is encoded in the nature, identity, structure, and dynamics of interacting genomes in situ. This genomic information can now be rapidly and generically extracted from the genomes of co-occurring microbes in natural habitats, using standard genomic technologies. The group is now exploring and applying these and related technologies, to better describe and exploit the genetic, biochemical, and metabolic potential that is contained in the natural microbial world. The central focus is on marine systems, due to the fundamental environmental significance of the oceans, as well their suitability for enabling development of new technologies, methods, and theory.

Research Areas: 

Honors & Awards: 

UC Davis College of Biological Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award, UC Davis, October 2012
Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2011
American Society for Microbiology D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award, 2009
Elected Fellow, National Academy of Sciences U. S. A., April 2008
Elected, Member of the Board of Governors, American Academy of Microbiology, 2008
Proctor and Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2008
Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal of the European Geosciences Union, 2008
Elected Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, May 2005
Moore Investigator in Marine Microbiology, August 2004
Apple Bioinformatics Cluster Award, June 2004
Elected Fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology, August 2000

Selected Publications:

Ottesen, Elizabeth A., Curtis R. Young, Scott M. Gifford, John M. Eppley, Roman Marin, Stephan C. Schuster, Christopher A. Scholin, and Edward F. DeLong. "Ocean microbes. Multispecies diel transcriptional oscillations in open ocean heterotrophic bacterial assemblages." Science 345, no. 6193 (2014): 207-12.
Yoshizawa, Susumu, Yohei Kumagai, Hana Kim, Yoshitoshi Ogura, Tetsuya Hayashi, Wataru Iwasaki, Edward F. DeLong, and Kazuhiro Kogure. "Functional characterization of flavobacteria rhodopsins reveals a unique class of light-driven chloride pump in bacteria." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111, no. 18 (2014): 6732-7.
Shi, Yanmei, Gene W. Tyson, and Edward F. DeLong. "Metatranscriptomics reveals unique microbial small RNAs in the ocean's water column." Nature 459, no. 7244 (2009): 266-9.
DeLong, Edward F., Christina M. Preston, Tracy Mincer, Virginia Rich, Steven J. Hallam, Niels-Ulrik Frigaard, Asuncion Martinez, Matthew B. Sullivan, Robert Edwards, Beltran Rodriguez Brito et al. "Community genomics among stratified microbial assemblages in the ocean's interior." Science 311, no. 5760 (2006): 496-503.
Hallam, Steven J., Nik Putnam, Christina M. Preston, John C. Detter, Daniel Rokhsar, Paul M. Richardson, and Edward F. DeLong. "Reverse methanogenesis: testing the hypothesis with environmental genomics." Science 305, no. 5689 (2004): 1457-62.