Ryan Bezy

Assistant Professor of Biology

165 Basile Hall
319-363-1323 ext.1277

BA  DePauw University
PhD  Indiana University

Assistant Professor of Biology Ryan Bezy has a Bachelor degree in biology from DePauw University and earned a doctorate in molecular biology and genetics from Indiana University. At Indiana University and since beginning to teach full time at Mount Mercy University in 2010, Bezy has had the opportunity to both teach undergraduate students and mentor several students in research projects.

During his time at Indiana University, Bezy carried out research into how the cyanobacterium Fremyella diplosiphon responds to changes in ambient light color through the differential expression of two types of light absorbing pigments. This research into how bacteria sense and respond to changes in their environment resulted in numerous publications. Currently, Bezy is carrying out research on a freshwater cyanobacterium called Microcystis aeruginosa. Microcystis aeruginosa is best known for production of a toxin, microcystin, which causes illness in animals and has been shown to result in liver cancer in humans. Dense blooms of cyanobacteria in freshwater supplies have become increasingly common due to runoff from agricultural fertilizers. These fertilizers result in high nutrient conditions that can cause cyanobacterial populations to increase rapidly and produce dangerously high levels of microcystin.  There have been numerous studies to identify cyanobacteria species that produce toxins and how to detect both these cyanobacteria and their toxins in water supplies. At the same time, there is relatively little known about the conditions that result in high levels of microcystin production, and some of the data is conflicting.  Nutrient availability, temperature, and light intensity have all been implicated in microcystin production; however, the exact role of these conditions in microcystin production remains unclear.  Research into the environmental conditions and cellular mechanisms involved in production of this toxin will be of great insight into preventing contamination of water supplies.

Bezy is a member of the Iowa Academy of Sciences, serving as chair of the Cellular, Molecular and Microbiology section of the academy. He is also a member of the American Society of Microbiologists.

In his free time he enjoys running, basketball, and spending time with his wife, Jami, his son Clark, and their dog, Indigo.


Bezy, R.P., L. Wiltbank, and D.M. Kehoe. 2011. Light-dependent attenuation of phycoerythrin gene expression reveals convergent evolution of green light sensing in cyanobacteria. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 108(45): 18542-7 pdf

Bezy, R.P, and D.M. Kehoe. 2010. Functional characterization of a cyanobacterial OmpR/PhoB class transcription factor binding site controlling light color responses. J. Bacteriol. 192(22): 5923-33. pdf

Li, L., R. M. Alvey, R. P. Bezy, and D. M. Kehoe. 2008. Inverse transcriptional activities during complementary chromatic adaptation are controlled by the response regulator RcaC binding to red and green light-responsive promoters. Molecular Microbiology 68:286-297. pdf

Alvey, R. M. , R. P. Bezy, N. Frankenberg-Dinkel, and D. M. Kehoe. 2007. A light regulated OmpR-class promoter element co-ordinates light harvesting protein and chromophore biosynthetic enzyme gene expression. Molecular Microbiology 64:319-332.  pdf