For many years, F. Robert (Bob) Tabita and his research team have studied the structure and function of key catalysts of carbon dioxide assimilation, in particular the enzyme ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO). In addition, his research group has deduced complex mechanisms by which photosynthetic and chemoautotrophic microbes regulate the expression of genes essential for CO2 fixation and they have elucidated how specific regulator proteins may interact to activate transcription. Some years ago, Tabita’s lab discovered that the molecular control of key processes such as CO2 fixation, nitrogen fixation, hydrogen metabolism, and sulfur oxidation/reduction are linked in photosynthetic bacteria.
More recently, the laboratory is seeking to apply this knowledge while employing synthetic biology approaches towards the bioconversion of CO2 to useful value-added products such as biofuels. Tabita has published over 200 papers in leading molecular biology, biochemistry, and microbiology journals. He is the Ohio Eminent Scholar and Professor of Microbiology at The Ohio State University, with joint appointments in several other departments and interdisciplinary programs.
For 10 years, Tabita served as Director of the OSU Plant Molecular Biology/Biotechnology Program, the Plant Biotechnology Center, and the Plant-Microbe Genomics Facility, which he currently still directs. He is a member of the Institute for Energy and the Environment Advisory Committee and the OSU President’s and Provost’s Advisory Committee and was a Presidential appointee to the University Research Committee and the OSU Athletics Council. During the 2010-11 academic year, Tabita served as the Chair of the Athletics Council, which oversees the largest intercollegiate athletic program in the United States.