Research in my lab probes the environmental, structural and physiological basis of bacterial survival. The majority of earth’s microbes exist in a non-growing, surival state, making it important to better understand the mechanisms underpinning this physiological state. We primarily use the environmental zoonotic pathogen, Coxiella burnetii (causative agent of Q fever), to explore questions central to long-term environmental stability and spore-like resistance; characteristics at the root of the pathogen’s ability to transmit disease. To gain a better understanding of this phenomenon, we will dive deep into the structural abyss of the C. burnetii cell envelope. This intricate structure acts as both a barrier and a molecular switchboard for the bacterium by connecting environmental signals to the response circuitry within the bacterial cell. We suspect that modifications to this structure reinforce barrier function, limit external signal input, and enable long-term survival of the pathogen. Lucky for us, the developmental biology of C. burnetii and its irrepressible spirit, make this sleeping beauty an attractive model to explore the phenomenon of bacterial survival.
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Population Medicine and Diagnostic Medicine
Roles: Faculty Investigator
Research Areas: Animal Hosts, Bacteria, Disease Ecology and Evolution, Microbiota and Microbiomes