Photo of Dr. Fletcher

Madilyn Fletcher

Director of the Baruch Institute

Professor of Marine and Biological Sciences
Ph.D., 1975, University of Wales, Bangor, U.K.

609A Earth and Water Sciences

Dr. Fletcher's email address is

Research Interests:

Madilyn Fletcher is currently Director of the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine Biology and Coastal Research at the University of South Carolina. The Baruch Institute develops and conducts programs in multidisciplinary research on coastal, estuarine, and marine systems ( In her role as Baruch Institute Director, Madilyn Fletcher has a strong interest in regional partnering and the development of initiatives that coordinate strong science with real-world applications and needs. She is Principal Investigator for the Carolinas Coastal Ocean Observing System (Caro-COOPS), a new initiative with partners North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Caro-COOPS is currently being implemented and will comprise a mooring array off of the Carolinas' coast, which is designed to integrate real-time monitoring of hydrologic and meteorological conditions with state-of-the-art computer models to characterize and predict complex coupled air-land-sea processes. The USC portion of this collaborative project is focused on information management and integration. She is also PI for Cast-Net, a multi-institutional program focused on development of tools to facilitate documentation, integration, and sharing of data from laboratories in the Southern Association of Marine Laboratories (SAML).

As an individual investigator and microbiologist, Madilyn Fletcher's research program has focused on of aspects of bacterial attachment to solid surfaces, physiological activity of attached bacteria, and molecular characterization of bacterial communities. All solid surfaces in natural environments are colonized by bacteria, as they attach to such surfaces and subsequently grow and proliferate. This bacterial colonization of surfaces and the formation of bacterial “biofilms" have serious implications in human, animal, and plant health, in industrial processes, and in ecological processes. In order to control or prevent undesirable biofilms, it is necessary to understand the physical, chemical, and biological factors that are involved in bacterial attachment to surfaces.

One approach towards controlling bacterial biofilms is to develop "non-stick" surfaces to which the bacteria cannot adhere. Thus, much of Madilyn Fletcher's past research has probed the various biological, chemical, and physical factors that influence the attachment process. This includes many studies on the physical and chemical properties of surfaces that control attachment. Much of this research has deal with sediment systems and the influence of bacterial attachment to sediment particle surfaces on bacterial movement and transport through porous media. More recently, research has focused on the characteristics of microbial communities on surfaces, in an attempt to understand the extent to which solid surfaces “select” for various types of microorganisms and the influence of the surface environment on community development and interactions. Our most recent work has utilized various molecular methods for profiling microbial communities, in order to identify relationships among bacterial community characteristics and their local environments.

Selected Publications:

Noble, P.A., K. Bidle, and M. Fletcher. 1997. Natural microbial community compositions determined by a back propagating neural network and cluster analysis of stable low-molecular-weight RNA. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.63: 1762-1770.

M.F. DeFlaun, Oppenheimer, S.R., C.C. Condee, and M. Fletcher. 1999. Alterations in adhesion, transport, and membrane polymers in an adhesion-deficient pseudomonad. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 65: 759-765.

Van Schie, P.M. and M. Fletcher. 1999. Adhesion of biodegradative anaerobic bacteria to solid surfaces. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 65:5082-5088.

Fletcher, M. and P. Noble. 2000. Molecular approaches for characterizing microbial community structure in estuaries. In: Microbial Biosystems: New Frontiers: Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology, Halifax, August 1998, pp. 113-118.

Fredrickson, J.K. and M. Fletcher (eds.) 2001. Subsurface Microbiology. John Wiley, New York.

Fletcher, M. and E.M. Murphy. 2001. Transport of bacteria in subsurface systems. In: J.K. Fredrickson & M. Fletcher (eds.), Subsurface Microbiology. John Wiley, New York, pp. 39-68.

J.S. Almeida, J. A. Carrico, A. Maretzek, P.A. Noble, M. Fletcher. 2001. Analysis of genomic sequences by chaos game representation. Bioinformatics 17 (5):429-437.

S.E. Silliman, R. Dunlap, M. Fletcher, and M.A. Schneegurt. 2002. Bacterial transport in heterogeneous porous media: observations from laboratory experiments. Water Resources Research 37: 2699-2707.