E. Peter Greenberg

University of Washington


Election Year: 2004
Primary Section: 44, Microbial Biology
Secondary Section: 26, Genetics
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

As a microbiologist I have been interested in the social behavior of bacteria. A primary focus has been on the coordination of activities in groups of bacteria. A main focus of my work has been on cell-to-cell communication and a phenomenon that is known as quorum sensing. Many bacteria use chemical signals as cues to coordinate activities of individuals in groups. This allows population density dependent differential gene expression, and it can function in the development of specialized sessile communities known as biofilms. Signaling plays a critical role in the development of chronic and persistent bacterial infections. Investigators in my laboratory have determined the structures of several signal molecules, elucidated the mechanism of signal synthesis, and studied how the signals activate gene expression. Our current research examines the role of cell-to-cell signaling in bacterial virulence, and the basic mechanisms of the signaling process. Our work is currently focused on the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and how this bacterium adapts phenotypically and genetically for persistence in the lungs of people with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis. We are also interested in self vs non-self discrimination in bacteria.

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