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, the basic mechanisms of the signaling process, and the evolution and diversity of signaling systems.

Membership Type


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Primary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology

Secondary Section

Section 26: Genetics