Vanderbilt School of Medicine | Vanderbilt University | Vanderbilt Medical Center

Evolutionary and functional genetics of host x microbe interactions

When a microbe occupies the niche of an animal or plant, a conflict or compromise ensues that is dependent upon the efficacy of the host response and bacterial colonization capacity. We are interested in the biomolecular networks and genetic interactions between hosts and microbes that govern these interactions. Our long term goal is to combine knowledge from human microbiomes and model systems to address the interplay between host genetics and bacteria.

We seek to answer the following three questions: (1) Does human ethnicity and genetic variaiton persistently impact the microbiome? (2) What genes in animal models affect colonization, replication and transmission of maternally transmitted bacteria? (3) What host molecular mechanisms are deployed to trasmit bacteria from mom to offspring? and (4) What are the roles of dominance and epistasis among these genes and phenotypes?

Selected Publications:

LePage D.P., K.K. Jernigan, and S.R. Bordenstein. (2014) The relative importance of DNA methylation and Dnmt2-mediated epigenetic regulation on Wolbachia densities and cytoplasmic incompatibility (open access) PeerJ Paper

Funkhouser, L.J. and S.R. Bordenstein (2013) Mom knows best: The universality of maternal microbial transmission. PLOS Biology e1001631. Paper

Brucker, R.M., Funkhouser, L.J., Setia, S., Pauly, R. and S. R. Bordenstein (2012) Insect innate immunity database (IIID): An annotation tool for identifying immune genes in insect genomes. PLOS One e45125. Paper | Database

M.E. Chafee, C.N. Zecher, M.L. Gourley, V.T. Schmidt, J.H. Chen, S.R. Bordenstein, M.E. Clark, and S.R. Bordenstein. (2011) Decoupling of host-symbiont-phage coadaptations following transfer between insect species. Genetics 187: 203-215. Paper