Alan Decho

Public profile

Alan W. Decho
(803) 777-6584
Postal Address: 
Public Health Research Center (PHRC), 509A Arnold School of Public Health 921 Assembly Street Columbia, SC 29208
Grouping Type: 
Associate Members

The Decho Microbial Interactions laboratory investigates microbial biofilms and mats, focusing specifically on processes occurring within the extracellular polymer (EPS) matrix. We are interested in looking for carbonate precipitation, quorum sensing (communication), the use of nanoparticles as probes, and searching for signatures of EPS processes in mat fossil systems.

Biographical Information:
2002: PROFESSOR, Environmental Health Sciences, USC
1998: ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, Environmental Health Sciences, USC
1995: Associate Faculty, School of the Environment, USC
1994: Associate Faculty, Marine Sciences Program, USC
1994: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, Environmental Health Sciences, USC
1989-93: Post-doctoral researcher, USGS, Menlo Park, Calif.
1988-92: Post-Doctoral researcher: Marine Sciences, SUNY- Stony Brook, NY
1987-88: Post-Doctoral researcher, CSIRO Marine Laboratories, Queensland, Australia


2003: Recipient, USC Educational Foundation Research Award for Health Sciences
1999: Recipient, USC School of Public Health Research Award (School-wide Compeition);
1989: National Research Council (NRC) Post-Doctoral Fellow;
1987: Fulbright Hays Post-Doctoral Scholar - AUSTRALIA
  • biofilms in oceans/ microbial mats
  • extracellular polymeric secretions (EPS) of bacteria
  • biofilms in hospital infections and pathogen survival
  • chemical signaling in natural biofilms
  • animal / microbial interactions and bioavailability
  • nano-antimicrobial approaches
  • environmental-nanoparticle interactions in biofilms

Decho, AW, RL Frey, JL Ferry 2011. Chemical challenges to bacterial AHL signaling in the environment. Chemical Reviews 111: 86-99

Ferry JL., P Craig, C Hexel, P Sisco, R Frey, PL Pennington, MH Fulton, IG Scott, AW Decho, S Kashiwada, CJ Murphy, TJ Shaw (2009). Transfer of gold nanoparticles from the water column to the estuarine food web. Nature Nanotechnology 4:441-444.

Decho AW, PT Visscher, J Ferry, T Kawaguchi, L He, KM Przekop, RS Norman, RP Reid (2009) Autoinducers extracted from microbial mats reveal a surprising diversity of N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) and abundance changes that may relate to diel pH. Environmental Microbiology 11:409-420.

Decho AW, T Kawaguchi, M Allison, E Louchard, RP Reid, C Stephens, KJ Voss, RA Wheatcroft, BB Taylor (2003) Sediment properties influencing upwelling spectral reflectance signatures: the "biofilm gel effect". Limnology and Oceanography 48:431-443.

Reid RP, PT Visscher, AW Decho, et al. (2000) The role of microbes in accretion, lamination, and early lithification of modern marine stromatolites. Nature 406: 989-992.

Decho AW (1990) Microbial exopolymer secretions in ocean environments: Their role(s) in food webs and marine processes. Oceanography & Marine Biology Annual Review 28:73-154.
Courses Taught:
Analytical Concepts (ENHS 787)
Biofilms in the Environment and Disease (ENHS 665)
Public Health Microbiology (ENHS 450)



Member for
9 years 10 months