Steven Biller

Research Scientist
Civil and Environmental Engineering

MIT 48-106
15 Vassar Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Phone: 617-253-1857
Fax: 617-258-7009
Email: sbiller at





2010 Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford CA
2007 Hopkins Microbiology Summer Course, Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, Pacific Grove CA
2002 B.A., Biology, Williams College, Williamstown MA

Positions Held:

2015-Present Research Scientist, Parsons Laboratory and Department of Civil and Environmental
Engineering, MIT (Lab of Dr. Sallie W. Chisholm)
2010-2015 Postdoctoral Associate, Parsons Laboratory and Department of Civil and Environmental
Engineering, MIT (Advisor: Dr. Sallie W. Chisholm)
2010 Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Environmental Earth Systems Science, Stanford University (Advisor: Dr. Christopher Francis)
2003-2010 Graduate student, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford
University (Advisor: Dr. William Burkholder)
2002-2003 Research Assistant, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole MA (Advisor: Dr. Mitchell Sogin)

Research Interests:

I am broadly interested in how microbes shape the biosphere, and how the biosphere, in turn, shapes microbes. My research takes a model system approach to address questions in microbial ecology through a combination of laboratory, field and bioinformatics studies. In the Chisholm lab, my work uses the Prochlorococcus system to explore questions such as: What are the ecological roles of bacterial extracellular vesicles? What are the specific interactions that occur among microbes, and how do these interactions impact function and stabilize communities? What are the mechanisms that drive co-evolution in microbial communities? How is bacterial diversity structured across physical scales, and how does this impact ecosystem function?


Biller SJ , McDaniel LD, Breitbart M, Rogers E, Paul JH, and Chisholm SW. 2017.
Membrane vesicles in sea water: heterogenous DNA content and implications for viral abundance estimates.
The ISME Journal. 11(2): 394-404.

Biller SJ , Coe A, and Chisholm SW. 2016.
Torn apart and reunited: Impact of a heterotroph on the transcriptome of Prochlorococcus.
The ISME Journal. 10(12): 2831-2843.

Coe A, Ghizzoni J, LeGault K, Biller SJ, Roggensack S, and Chisholm SW. 2016.
Survival of Prochlorococcus in extended darkness.
Limnology and Oceanography. 61(4): 1375-1388.

Biller SJ, Berube PM, Lindell D and Chisholm SW. 2015.
Prochlorococcus: The structure and function of collective diversity.
Nature Reviews Microbiology 13: 13-27.

Lea-Smith, DJ, Biller SJ, Davey, M. P., Cotton, C. A. R., Perez Sepulveda, B. M., Turchyn, A. V., Scanlan DJ, Smith AG, Chisholm SW and Howe CJ. 2015.
Contribution of cyanobacterial alkane production to the ocean hydrocarbon cycle.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(44): 13591-13596.

Berube PM, Biller SJ, Kent AG, Berta-Thompson JW, Roggensack SE, Roache-Johnson KH, Ackerman M, Moore LR, Meisel JD, Sher D, Thompson LR, Campbell L, Martiny AC and Chisholm SW. 2015.
Physiology and evolution of nitrate acquisition in Prochlorococcus
The ISME Journal 9(5): 1195-207.

Biller SJ, Coe A, Martin-Cuadrado AB, and Chisholm SW.  2015. 
Draft genome sequence of Alteromonas macleodii strain MIT1002, isolated from an enrichment culture of the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus.
Genome Announcements 3(4): e00967-15.

Biller SJ, Schubotz F, Roggensack SE, Thompson AW, Summons RE and Chisholm SW.  2014. 
Bacterial Vesicles in Marine Ecosystems.
Science 10 January 2014: 183-186.

Kashtan N, Roggensack SE, Rodrigue S, Thompson JW, Biller SJ, Coe A, Ding H, Marttinen P, Stocker R, Follows M, Stepanauskas R and Chisholm SW. 2014.
Single cell genomics reveals hundreds of coexisting subpopulations in wild Prochlorococcus
Science 344: 416-420.

Biller SJ, Berube PM, Berta-Thompson JW, Kelly L, Roggensack SE, Awad L, Roache-Johnson KH, Ding H, Giovannoni SJ, Rocap G, Moore LR and Chisholm SW.  2014.
Genomes of diverse isolates of the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus
Scientific Data 1:140034.

Biller SJ, Mosier AC, Wells GF and Francis CA. 2012.
Global biodiversity of aquatic ammonia-oxidizing archaea is partitioned by habitat.
Frontiers in Aquatic Microbiology 3: 252.

Biller SJ, Wayne KJ, Winkler ME and Burkholder WF. 2011.
The putative hydrolase YycJ (WalJ) affects the coordination of cell division with DNA replication in Bacillus
subtilis and may play a conserved role in cell wall metabolism.
J Bacteriology 193: 896-908.

Biller SJ and Burkholder WF. 2009. 
The Bacillus subtilis SftA (YtpS) and SpoIIIE DNA translocases play distinct roles in growing cells to ensure faithful chromosome partitioning.
Molecular Microbiology 74(4): 790-809.

Laskowski M, Biller S, Stanley K, Kajstura T, and Prusty R. 2006. 
Expression Profiling of Auxin-Treated Arabidopsis Roots: Towards a molecular analysis of lateral root emergence.
Plant and Cell Physiology 47(6): 788-792.

Biller, S. 2001.
From the Drafting Table to the Front Lines: Designing, Building and Utilizing the Ironclad USS Galena. 
The Log of Mystic Seaport. 53(1): 2-11.