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Professor Turner Published in Journal of Developmental and Comparative Immunology

Matthew Fraley
Graduate Assistant, School of Natural Science and Mathematics

Turner feature

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Michael Turner, Ph.D., posed with Provost Boyd Creasman, Ph.D., Honors Program Director Sarah Scott, Ph.D., and President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D as he received an award for outstanding service to the Honors Program.

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Michael Turner, Ph.D., was recently published in the Journal of Developmental and Comparative Immunology for his research on the innate molecular immune systems of worms.

Turner, who has a background in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, worked both on campus and at Fort Detrick to research whether worms could feed on anthrax. He has been studying these bacterial pathogens and the worms’ immune system since his postdoctoral work at Fort Detrick.

“The Army became very interested that the worms could sense [anthrax] and avoid it,” Dr. Turner said. “In the end we found out they weren’t avoiding [anthrax] because it was harmful to them. Only adult worms will be able to ingest this toxin because of its size, and even then they will eat it when there’s nothing around.” The worms were avoiding anthrax because it was not easy to eat.

“The real point of the paper was this finding, but then also the fact that for so long [scientists] who study the immune system that use these worms [theorized] that this was part of the innate immune response and the specific genes linked to that,” Turner said.

It was thought that these worms could be used as “bioremediation” in order to kill anthrax bacteria. Ultimately, this paper was meant to challenge the theory that these worms could be used as bioremediation. You can read the full paper here.

Matthew Fraley
Graduate Assistant, School of Natural Science and Mathematics