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Research Summary: 

In the Whiteley Lab, we are interested in the social lives of bacteria. Currently we are utilizing new technologies combined with classical genetic techniques to address questions about microbial physiology, ecology, virulence, and evolution. In particular we are working on tackling the following questions:

How do bacteria communicate?

How do polymicrobial interactions impact physiology and virulence?

How do bacteria evolve in the host?

How do nutrients available at infection sites impact behavior and virulence?

With the diverse resources at UT Austin we are taking advantage of several unique opportunities for collaboration. With the Shear lab in the chemistry department we are using multiphoton lithography and confocal microscopy to study small microbial communities in "bacterial lobster traps" that often mimic the sizes of populations observed in nature more accurately than traditional, dense batch culture techniques. With the UT Genome Sequencing and Analysis Facility and the Texas Advanced Computing Center we are harnessing high-throughput sequencing methods including RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) and transposon sequencing (Tn-Seq)

Selected publications

·     Murray JL, Kwon T, Marcotte EM, Whiteley M. 2015. Intrinsic antimicrobial resistance determinants in the superbug Pseudomonas aeruginosa. mBio. 2015 Oct 27;6(6). 


Turner KH, Wessel AK, Palmer GC, Murray JL, and M. Whiteley. 2015. Essential genome of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis sputum. PNAS. 112(13):4110-5. 

JL Connell, J Kim, JB Shear, AJ Bard, and M Whiteley. 2014. Real-time monitoring of quorum sensing in 3D-printed bacterial aggregates using scanning electrochemical microscopy. PNAS 111(51):18255-60. 

Turner KH, Everett J, Trivedi U, Rumbaugh KP, & Whiteley M. 2014. Requirements for Pseudomonas aeruginosa acute burn and chronic surgical wound infection. PLoS Genetics. Jul 24;10(7):e100451. 

·    Stacy A, Everett J, Jorth P, Trivedi U, Rumbaugh KP, and Whiteley M. Bacterial fight-and-flight responses enhance virulence in a polymicrobial infection. 2014. PNAS, 111(21):7819-24.   


Wessel AK, Arshad TA, Fitzpatrick M, Connell JL, Bonnecaze RT, Shear JB, Whiteley M. 2014. Oxygen Limitation within a Bacterial Aggregate. mBio.15;5(2).

Jorth P, Turner KH, Gumus P, Nizam N, Buduneli N, Whiteley M. 2014. Metatranscriptomics of the human oral microbiome during health and disease. MBio. 2014 Apr 1;5(2).

·     Estrela S, Whiteley M, Brown SP. 2014. The demographic determinants of human microbiome health. Trends Microbiol. 23:134-41. 


Palmer GC, Jorth PA, Whiteley M. 2013. The role of two Pseudomonas aeruginosa anthranilate synthases in tryptophan and quorum signal production. Microbiology. 159(Pt 5):959-69.

Schertzer JW, Whiteley M. 2013. Bacterial outer membrane vesicles in trafficking, communication and the host-pathogen interaction. J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 23(1-2):118-30.

Wessel AK, J. Liew, T. Kwon, E.M. Marcotte, and M. Whiteley. 2013. Role of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Peptidoglycan-Associated Outer Membrane Proteins in Vesicle Formation. J Bacteriol. 195(2):213-9.

Needham BD, Carroll SM, Giles DK, Georgiou G, Whiteley M, Trent MS. 2013. Modulating the innate immune response by combinatorial engineering of endotoxin. PNAS. 110(4):1464-9.

Jorth P, Trivedi U, Rumbaugh K, Whiteley M. 2013. Probing bacterial metabolism during infection using high-resolution transcriptomics. J Bacteriol. 2013 Aug 23. 

Connell JL, Ritschdorff ET, Whiteley M, Shear JB. 2013. 3D printing of microscopic bacterial communities. PNAS. 110(46):18380-5.

Wessel AK, Hmelo L, Parsek MR, Whiteley M. 2013. Going local: technologies for exploring bacterial microenvironments. Nature Rev. Microbiol. 11(5):337-48.

Schertzer JW, Whiteley M. 2013. Bacterial outer membrane vesicles in trafficking, communication and the host-pathogen interaction. J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 23:118-30.

Korgaonkar, A.K., U. Trivedi, K.P. Rumbaugh, and M. Whiteley. 2013. Community surveillance enhances Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence during polymicrobial infection. PNAS. 110(3):1059-64. PMID: 23277552.

Chu W, Zere TR, Weber MM, Wood TK, Whiteley M, Hidalgo-Romano B, Valenzuela E Jr, McLean RJ. 2012. Indole Production Promotes Escherichia coli Mixed-Culture Growth with Pseudomonas aeruginosa by Inhibiting Quorum Signaling. Appl Environ Microbiol. 78(2):411-9.

Miller DJ, Araújo PA, Correia PB, Ramsey MM, Kruithof JC, van Loosdrecht MC, Freeman BD, Paul DR, Whiteley M, Vrouwenvelder JS. 2012. Short-term adhesion and long-term biofouling testing of polydopamine and poly(ethylene glycol) surface modifications of membranes and feed spacers for biofouling control. Water Res. 46:3737-53.

Youle M, Rohwer F, Stacy A, Whiteley M, Steel BC, Delalez NJ, Nord AL, Berry RM, Armitage JP, Kamoun S, Hogenhout S, Diggle SP, Gurney J, Pollitt EJ, Boetius A, Cary SC. 2012. The microbial olympics. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2012 Jul 16;10(8):583-8.

Schertzer JW and M. Whiteley. 2012. A bilayer couple model of bacterial outer membrane vesicle biogenesis. mBio 3(2). pii: e00297-11.

Jorth, P.A. and M. Whiteley. 2012. An Evolutionary Link Between Natural Transformation and CRISPR Adaptive Immunity, mBio. Nov 1;3(5).

Ng DW, Zhang C, Miller M, Palmer G, Whiteley M, Tholl D, Chen ZJ. 2011. cis- and trans-Regulation of miR163 and Target Genes Confers Natural Variation of Secondary Metabolites in Two Arabidopsis Species and Their Allopolyploids. Plant Cell. 23(5):1729-40.

Connell JL, Whiteley M, Shear JB. 2011. Sociomicrobiology in engineered landscapes. Nat Chem Biol. 2011 Dec 15;8(1):10-3

Stacy AR, Diggle SP, Whiteley M. 2011. Rules of engagement: defining bacterial communication. Curr Opin Microbiol. Dec 18.

D. Koley, M.M. Ramsey, A.J. Bard, and M. Whiteley. 2011. Discovery of a Biofilm Electrocline using real-time 3D Metabolite Analysis. PNAS. 108(50):19996-20001.

Ramsey, M.M., K.P. Rumbaugh, and M. Whiteley. 2011. Metabolite cross-feeding enhances virulence in a model polymicrobial infection. PLoS Pathogens, 7(3):e1002012.

Korgaonkar, A.K. and M. Whiteley. 2011. Pseudomonas aeruginosa enhances production of an antimicrobial in response to N-acetylglucosamine and peptidoglycan. J. Bacteriol. 193(4):909-17.

Liu, X., M.M Ramsey, X. Chen, D. Koley, M. Whiteley, A.J. Bard. 2011. Real time mapping of a hydrogen peroxide concentration profile across a polymicrobial bacterial biofilm using scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM). PNAS, 108(7):2668-73.

Schertzer JW and M. Whiteley. 2011. Microbial communication superhighways. Cell, 144(4):469-70.

Palmer KL, Whiteley M. 2011. DMS3-42: The secret to CRISPR-dependent biofilm inhibition in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. J Bacteriol. 2011 May 6.

Palmer GC, Palmer KL, Jorth PA, Whiteley M. 2010. Characterization of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa transcriptional response to phenylalanine and tyrosine. J Bacteriol. 192(11):2722-8.

Huse, H.H., and M. Whiteley. 2010. 4-quinolones: Smart phones of the microbial world. Chem Reviews. August 11, Epub ahead of print.

Huse, H.K., T. Kwon, J.E.A. Zlosnik, D.P. Speert,E.M. Marcotte,and M. Whiteley. 2010. Parallel evolution in Pseudomonas aeruginosa over 39,000 generations in vivo. mBio, Sep 21;1(4). pii: e00199-10.

Rogers GB, Hoffman LR, Whiteley M, Daniels TV, Carroll MP, Bruce KD. 2010. Revealing the dynamics of polymicrobial infections: implications for antibiotic therapy. Trends Microbiol. 18(8):357-64

Jorth PA and M. Whiteley. 2010. Characterization of a novel riboswitch-regulated lysine transporter in Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. J. Bacteriol. 192:6240-50.

Connell, J., A. Wessel, M.R. Parsek, *M. Whiteley, *J.B. Shear. 2010. Probing prokaryotic group activities with bacterial lobster traps. mBio. 12;1(4). pii: e00202-10. * co-corresponding authors.

Laurent, J., C. Vogel, T. Kwon, S.A. Craig, D.R. Boutz, H.K. Huse, K. Nozue, H. Walia, M. Whiteley, P.C. Ronald, E.M. Marcotte. 2010. Protein abundances are more conserved than mRNA abundances across diverse taxa. Proteomics, 23:4209-12.

Schertzer, J.W., S.A. Brown, and M. Whiteley. 2010. Oxygen levels rapidly modulate Pseudomonas aeruginosa social behaviours via substrate limitation of PqsH. Molecular Microbiology. 77(6):1527-38.

Zhang, Y., M. Whiteley, J. Kreths, Y. Lei, A. Khammanivong, J.N. Evavold, J. Fan, and M. Herzberg. 2009. The two-component system BfrAB regulates expression of ABC transporters in Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus sanguinis. Microbiology. 155: 165-173.

Mashburn-Warren L, Howe J, Brandenburg K, M. Whiteley. 2009. Structural requirements of the Pseudomonas Quinolone Signal for membrane vesicle stimulation. J Bacteriol. 191:3411-4.

Schertzer, J.W., M. Boulette, and M. Whiteley. 2009. More than a signal: non-signaling properties of quorum sensing molecules. Trends in Microbiol. 17(5):189-95.

Castañeda-Carrión, I.N., M. Whiteley, Krumholz LR. 2009. Characterization of pNC1, a small and mobilizable plasmid for use in genetic manipulation of Desulfovibrio africanus. J Microbiol Methods. PMID: 19631701.

A. Ueda, C. Attila, M. Whiteley, and T. K. Wood. 2009. Uracil influences quorum sensing and biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and fluorouracil is an antagonist. Microb. Biotechnol. 2: 62-74.

Boulette, M.L., P.J. Baynham, P.A. Jorth, I. Kukavica-Ibrulj, A. Longoria, K. Barrera, R.C. Levesqueand M. Whiteley. 2009. Characterization of alanine catabolism in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and its importance for proliferation in vivo. J Bacteriol. J Bacteriol.191:6329-34.

Ramsey, M.M. and M. Whiteley. 2009. Polymicrobial interactions stimulate resistance to host innate immunity through metabolite perception. PNAS 106:1578-83.

Brown, SA and M. Whiteley. 2009. Characterization of the L-Lactate dehydrogenase from Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. PLoS ONE, 17:4(11):e7864.

Mashburn-Warren, L.M, R.J.C. McLean, and M. Whiteley. 2008. Gram-negative outer membrane vesicles: Beyond the cell surface. Geobiology, 2008 Jun;6(3):214-9.

Kukavica-Ibrulj, I., F. Sanschagrin, A. Petersen, M. Whiteley, B. Boyle, J. MacKay, and R.C. Levesque. 2008. Functional Genomics of PycR, a LysR family transcriptional regulator essential for maintenance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the rat lung. Microbiology 154:2106-18.

Brown, S.A., K.L. Palmer, and M. Whiteley. 2008. Revisiting the host as a growth medium. Nature Reviews Microbiology. 6:657-666.

Mashburn-Warren, L., J. Howe, P. Garidel, W. Richter, F. Steiniger, M. Roessle, K. Brandenburg, and M. Whiteley. 2008. Interaction of quorum signals with outer membrane lipids: Insights into prokaryotic membrane vesicle formation. Mol. Microbiol. 69(2):491-502.

2014                            Elected to the American Academy of Microbiology

2013-2014                    Member faculty council, UT-Austin

2013                            ASM Division D chair

2012                            William Tonn faculty endowed fellow, UT-Austin

2011                            Member faculty 1000, Microbial Physiology & Metabolism Section

2011                            ASM Division D chair-elect

2010-2012                    American Society for Microbiology branch lecturer

2010                            Associate editor, Microbiology UK

2010                            Editorial board, Journal of Bacteriology

2009                            Dean’s teaching excellence award, UT-Austin

2009                            Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow, National Academy of Sciences

2009                            President, Texas Branch ASM

2008-present                Editorial board, Applied and Environmental Microbiology

2008                            Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease

2008                            Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award

* Only 2 awards given nationally. Given by the American Society for Microbiology for excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious disease.

2003                            OCAST Young Investigator Award ($300,000 grant)

                                                * Only 2 awards given in the state of Oklahoma