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Seth Bordenstein

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Professor, Department of Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation
Director, Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative
Associate Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation

Research Interests: The Bordenstein laboratory studies the functional, evolutionary and genetic principles that shape symbiotic interactions between animals, microbes, and viruses as well as the major consequences and applications of these symbioses to humans. The lab employs hypothesis-driven approaches to study intimate symbiosis (between animals, obligate intracellular bacteria, and bacteriophage) that impact animal reproduction and vector control as well as facultative symbioses (between free-living organisms) that shape genome and species evolution across the tree of life. Since animals regularly thwart or embrace the microscopic world in both intimate and facultative symbioses, the evolutionary history of animals is generally impacted by microbial ecology.  The laboratory also leads the Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative and 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. The lab’s research and science education activities have been highlighted in various popular science media including a documentary on bacterial symbiosis, the New York Times, National Geographic, Discover Magazine, Public Broadcasting Service, Scientific American, and BBC Radio.

Keywords: Bacteriophage, endosymbiosis, microbiome, phylosymbiosis, speciation, vector control, Wolbachia