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Elica Moss, Ph.D.

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Research Assistant Professor

Environmental Science, Soil Microbiology

Coordinator for Environmental Health Sciences

Program Area Affiliation: Environmental Soil and Water Sciences

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Alabama A&M University

149 Agricultural Research Center
P. O. Box 1928

Alabama A&M University

Normal, AL 35762

Phone: 256-372-8219
Fax:    256-372-8404


Degrees Earned

B.S.  Environmental Science - Alabama A&M University

PhD Environmental Toxicology/Microbial Ecology - Michigan State University

NRE 451/551 - Environmental Toxicology, NRE 170 - Environmental Science, NRE 223 - Environmental Health Science, NRE 400 – Epidemiology


Research Interests

Dr. Elica Moss has developed a study to evaluate the correlation between the environment and human health by determining the abundance of fecal bacteria in water and then using a technique called microbial source tracking to ascertain the source of the pollution. The analysis is performed using the IDEXX colilert (total coliform, E.coli) and enterolert (enterococci) tests. Preliminary results confirmed the presence of all three indicator bacteria and revealed seasonal variations in the quantity of the bacteria in the in the water samples. Future studies using host-specific (human, cow, dog, horse) 16S rRNA Bacteroides genetic markers will utilize microbial source tracking techniques to determine the origin of contamination. Research has shown that Bacteriodes are often used as source indicators because they are only found in the feces, rumen, and body cavities and there is host specific variation in animal hosts.  Dr. Moss also has a project identifying arsenite oxidizing/resistance genes in soils.  This proposed research involving pyrosequencing methods will provide substantial information of both microbial species and genes responsible for arsenite oxidation and resistance and thus increase the knowledge of the diversity and distribution of the bacterial that may be stimulated for successful bioremediation of arsenic contamination.  Arsenite oxidases may play an important role in As cycling in soil-water systems of which the results will show that arsenite oxidase genes may not only be phylogenetically diverse, but also ecologically widespread.  


Dr. Moss is involved in research with the Center for Forest Ecosystem Assessment that proposes to develop molecular systems for routine bacterial (chemolithotrophs) and fungal (white rot fungi (WRF)) biodiversity survey in the Bankhead National Forest (BNF). The study will develop a DNA-sequence database linked to study sites within BNF. Chemolithotrophs collectively comprise a phylogenetically diverse functional group that contributes significantly to soil C and N cycles and plays important roles in trace gas evolution (e.g., carbon monoxide and nitrous and nitric oxides).  The enzyme rubisCO catalyzes the carboxylation of Ribulose-1, 5- bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase and is well-studied because of its extensive agricultural and environmental significance.  Thus applying this type of analysis would represent a novel approach leading to a greater understanding of cbbL gene diversity and provide an overview understanding of the sustainability of the BNF


Dr. Moss serves as principal investigator (PI) or Co-PI to several other state and federal grants.  Among them are the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), NSF Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) with a focus on teacher training in biotechnology, NSF Travel Award that provides opportunities for undergraduates to attend national conferences, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Alabama Agricultural Land Grant Alliance (AALGA).