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The Bordenstein laboratory endeavors to understand and disseminate the principles that shape interactions between animals, microbes, and viruses and the basic and translational outcomes of these interactions.

We employ hypothesis-driven approaches to study two forms of animal-microbe associations: (i) intimate symbioses between animals, endosymbiotic bacteria, and bacteriophages that impact animal reproduction, evolution, and vector control and (ii) facultative symbioses between free-living organisms that shape health and evolution across the tree of life. Our scholarship leverages a wide range of methods and subdisciplines spanning bacteriology, biochemistry, development, ecology, embryology, evolution, genetics, genomics, transcriptomics, virology, and zoology. The lab also leads the Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative and directs the worldwide lab series Discover the Microbes Within! The Wolbachia Project that engages students in nature and real-world research and gives students an idea of what it is like to be a scientist.

Key questions that drive basic and translational outcomes:

  • What are the impacts of ethnicity and diet on human microbiome variation and health disparities? Publication | News | Microbiome Initiative
  • How does bacteriophage WO underpin a global pandemic (Wolbachia) and a major mosquito control strategy? Info | News | Publications
  • How do animals form symbiotic relationships with microbial communities and viruses? Info | News | Publications
  • How did life go from one to many millions of species today, and do microbes impact the origin of new animal species? Info | News | Publications
  • What does the future of science education look like for high schools, colleges, and citizen scientists? How can your community participate in discovery-based research to learn biology and hands-on biotechnology? Wolbachia Project | News | Video