Department of Biological Sciences

Lisa Moore Ph.D.

Professor Emerita of Biology
Lisa Moore

Office Location

105 Science (Biology Dept office)


207.780.4260 (Biology Dept office)

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1997
  • M.A., Liberal Education, St. John's College Graduate Institute, 1989
  • B.S., Biochemistry, University of Oregon, 1987


Dr. Moore retired from the Biology Department in 2018, although she continues to hold an adjunct appointment at USM. Currently, she works as a Research Fellow in the Paulsen Laboratory at the Department of Molecular Sciences, Macquarie University in Australia.

Dr. Moore joined the Biology Department at USM in 2000 after postdoctoral work at MIT. She is a microbial ecologist and a leading expert on Prochlorococcus, perhaps the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth. In Spring 2016, Dr. Moore received the Faculty Senate Award for Excellence in Scholarship.

Research Interests

My overall research interests focus on microbial phenotypic trait characterization. I have carried out extensive research on the ecology and physiology of two genera of marine cyanobacterium which form a major component of the marine food web: Prochlorococcus, the world’s most abundant photosynthetic microbe, and Synechococcus, which is more ubiquitous throughout different oceanic regimes. My primary research has focused on examining the physiological response to various ecologically significant environmental parameters, such as light, temperature and nutrients, which has been useful in helping understand spatial distributions of these marine cyanobacteria. I am also interested in the composition and distribution of natural populations of marine cyanobacteria communities as well as other members of the marine microbial web, such as photosynthetic picoeukaryotic phytoplankton and bacterioplankton, associated with marine cyanobactera.

In addition to my work on phytoplankton ecology and physiology, I also am working on a project that will enable the collection of phenotypic information from published taxonomic literature in order to create large taxon-character matrices, which can then be used by scientists to help with analyzing, annotating and visualizing the Tree of Life. The matrices also can be combined with phylogenomic trees for conducting phylogenetic comparative analyses to test evolutionary hypotheses.

Recent Publications

Moore, L. R., Huang, T, Ostrowski, M., Mazar, S., Kumar, S. S., Gamage, H. K. A. H., Brown, M. V., Messer, L. F., Seymour, J. R., Paulsen, I. T. Unicellular cyanobacteria are important components of phytoplankton communities in Australia’s Northern Oceanic Ecoregions. Frontiers in Microbiology 9: 3356. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03356.

Mao, J., Moore, L.R., Blank, C.E., Wu, E.H-H., Ackerman, M., and Cui, H. 2016. Microbial phenomics information extractor (MicroPIE): a natural language processing tool for the automated acquisition of prokaryotic phenotypic characters from text sources. BMC Bionformatics. 17:528. DOI 10.1186/s12859-016-1396-8.

Blank, C.E., Cui, H., Moore, L.R., Walls, R.L. 2016. MicrO: an ontology of phenotypic and metabolic characters, assays, and culture media found in prokaryotic taxonomic descriptions. Journal of Biomedical Semantics 7:18. DOI: 10.1186/s13326-016-0060-6.

Berube, P.M., S.J. Biller, A.G. Kent, J. W. Berta-Thompson, S. E. Roggensack, K. Roache-Johnson^, M. Ackerman#, L. R. Moore, J. D. Meisel, D. Sher, L. R. Thompson, L. Campbell, A. C. Martiny, and S. W. Chisholm. 2014. Physiology and evolution of nitrogen acquisition in Prochlorococcus. ISME Journal, (28 October 2014) | doi:10.1038/ismej.2014.211. ^USM student, #Southern Maine Community College student

Biller, S., P. Berube, J. Berta-Thompson, L. Kelly, S. Roggensack, L. Awad, K. Roache-Johnson^, H. Ding, S. J. Giovannoni, G. Rocap, L. R. Moore, S. W. Chisholm. 2014. Genomes of diverse isolates of the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus. Scientific Data, 1, Article number: 140034 | doi:10.1038/sdata.2014.34. ^USM student

Ahlgren, N., A. Noble, A. Patton, K. Roache-Johnson^, L. Jackson^, D. Robinson^, C. McKay, L.R. Moore, M. Saito, G. Rocap. 2014. The unique trace metal and mixed layer conditions of the Costa Rica upwelling dome support a distinct and dense community of Synechococcus. Limnology and Oceanography, 59(6), 2014, 2166-2184 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2014.59.6.2166. ^USM student