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Seth Bordenstein

Seth Bordenstein

Professor, Biology
Professor, Entomology
Scientific Program:Cancer Control
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Research Interests

We are interested in the evolutionary, genetic, and biochemical principles that shape interactions within the host-microbiome consortia, also known as the holobiont. Our long term goal is to combine knowledge from humans and animal model systems to define what are the rules of microbiome and symbiosis variation within and between animal species. We seek to answer three main questions: (1) What human features (genes, diet, sociality, etc) robustly impact the microbiome, metabolome, and disease risk phenome? (2) What animal genes affect colonization, replication, and maternal transmission of bacteria such as the inherited Wolbachia endosymbiont in arthropods? (3) What is the degree of phylogenetic signal on animal-associated microbiomes (aka, phylosymbiosis); simply put, do phylogenetically-related species have more similar microbiomes? If the answer is yes, then is phylosymbiosis consequential to host biology?

  • Wolbachia
  • Genes
  • Microbiota
  • Bacteria
  • Genome
  • Bacteriophages
  • Symbiosis
  • Arthropods
  • Animals
  • Wasps
  • Prophages
  • Insecta

Recent Publications


Kaur, R, McGarry, A, Dylan Shropshire, J, Leigh, BA & Bordenstein, SR 2024, 'Prophage proteins alter long noncoding RNA and DNA of developing sperm to induce a paternal-effect lethality', Science, vol. 383, no. 6687, pp. 1111-1117.
Kaur, R, Meier, CJ, McGraw, EA, Hillyer, JF & Bordenstein, SR 2024, 'The mechanism of cytoplasmic incompatibility is conserved in Wolbachia-bearing Aedes aegypti mosquitoes deployed for arbovirus control', PLoS biology, vol. 22, no. 3, e3002573.


Mallott, EK, Sitarik, AR, Leve, LD, Cioffi, C, Camargo, CA, Hasegawa, K & Bordenstein, SR 2023, 'Human microbiome variation associated with race and ethnicity emerges as early as 3 months of age', PLoS biology, vol. 21, no. 8 August, e3002230.
Ginnan, N & Bordenstein, SR 2023, 'It is time to authenticate the Microbiome Sciences with accredited educational programs and departments', PLoS biology, vol. 21, no. 12, e3002420.
Chioma, OS, Mallott, E, Shah-Gandhi, B, Wiggins, ZD, Langford, M, Lancaster, AW, Gelbard, A, Wu, H, Johnson, JE, Lancaster, L, Wilfong, EM, Crofford, LJ, Montgomery, CG, Van Kaer, L, Bordenstein, S, Newcomb, DC & Drake, WP 2023, 'Low Gut Microbial Diversity Augments Estrogen-Driven Pulmonary Fibrosis in Female-Predominant Interstitial Lung Disease', Cells, vol. 12, no. 5, 766.


Bell, K & Bordenstein, SR 2022, 'A Margulian View of Symbiosis and Speciation: the Nasonia Wasp System', Symbiosis, vol. 87, no. 1, pp. 3-10.
Chioma, OS, Mallott, EK, Chapman, A, Van Amburg, JC, Wu, H, Shah-Gandhi, B, Dey, N, Kirkland, ME, Blanca Piazuelo, M, Johnson, J, Bernard, GR, Bodduluri, SR, Davison, S, Haribabu, B, Bordenstein, SR & Drake, WP 2022, 'Gut microbiota modulates lung fibrosis severity following acute lung injury in mice', Communications Biology, vol. 5, no. 1, 1401.
Li, J, Markowitz, RHG, Brooks, AW, Mallott, EK, Leigh, BA, Olszewski, T, Zare, H, Bagheri, M, Smith, HM, Friese, KA, Habibi, I, Lawrence, WM, Rost, CL, Lédeczi, Á, Eeds, AM, Ferguson, JF, Silver, HJ & Bordenstein, SR 2022, 'Individuality and ethnicity eclipse a short-term dietary intervention in shaping microbiomes and viromes', PLoS biology, vol. 20, no. 8, e3001758.
Markowitz, RHG, LaBella, AL, Shi, M, Rokas, A, Capra, JA, Ferguson, JF, Mosley, JD & Bordenstein, SR 2022, 'Microbiome-associated human genetic variants impact phenome-wide disease risk', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 119, no. 26, e2200551119.
Kaur, R, Leigh, BA, Ritchie, IT & Bordenstein, SR 2022, 'The Cif proteins from Wolbachia prophage WO modify sperm genome integrity to establish cytoplasmic incompatibility', PLoS biology, vol. 20, no. 5, e3001584.
Ritchie, IT, Needles, KT, Leigh, BA, Kaur, R & Bordenstein, SR 2022, 'Transgenic cytoplasmic incompatibility persists across age and temperature variation in Drosophila melanogaster', iScience, vol. 25, no. 11, 105327.
Bordenstein, SR & Bordenstein, SR 2022, 'Widespread phages of endosymbionts: Phage WO genomics and the proposed taxonomic classification of Symbioviridae', PLoS genetics, vol. 18, no. 6, e1010227.


Perlmutter, JI, Meyers, JE & Bordenstein, SR 2021, 'A single synonymous nucleotide change impacts the male-killing phenotype of prophage wo gene wmk', eLife, vol. 10, e67686.
Cross, KL, Leigh, BA, Hatmaker, EA, Mikaelyan, A, Miller, AK & Bordenstein, SR 2021, 'Genomes of gut bacteria from nasonia wasps shed light on phylosymbiosis and microbe-assisted hybrid breakdown', mSystems, vol. 6, no. 2, e01342-20.
Kaur, R, Shropshire, JD, Cross, KL, Leigh, B, Mansueto, AJ, Stewart, V, Bordenstein, SR & Bordenstein, SR 2021, 'Living in the endosymbiotic world of Wolbachia: A centennial review', Cell Host and Microbe, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 879-893.
Carrier, TJ, Leigh, BA, Deaker, DJ, Devens, HR, Wray, GA, Bordenstein, SR, Byrne, M & Reitzel, AM 2021, 'Microbiome reduction and endosymbiont gain from a switch in sea urchin life history', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 118, no. 16, e2022023118.
Wang, NC, Bagheri, M, Olszewski, T, Friese, KA, Smith, HM, Robles, ME, Wang, C, Brooks, A, Bordenstein, SR, Ferguson, JF & Silver, HJ 2021, 'New-onset vegetarian diet shows differences in fatty acid metabolites in European American and African American women', Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, vol. 31, no. 8, pp. 2436-2448.
Dutra, HLC, Ford, SA, Allen, SL, Bordenstein, SR, Chenoweth, SF, Bordenstein, SR & McGraw, EA 2021, 'The impact of artificial selection for wolbachia-mediated dengue virus blocking on phage wo', PLoS neglected tropical diseases, vol. 15, no. 7, e0009637.
Shropshire, JD, Rosenberg, R & Bordenstein, SR 2021, 'The impacts of cytoplasmic incompatibility factor (cifA and cifB) genetic variation on phenotypes', Genetics, vol. 217, no. 1, IYAA007.
Miller, AK, Westlake, CS, Cross, KL, Leigh, BA & Bordenstein, SR 2021, 'The microbiome impacts host hybridization and speciation', PLoS biology, vol. 19, no. 10, e3001417.


Lim, SJ & Bordenstein, SR 2020, 'An introduction to phylosymbiosis', Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 287, no. 1922, 20192900.
Lemon, A, Bordenstein, SR & Bordenstein, SR 2020, 'Discover the microbes within! The wolbachia project: Citizen science and student-based discoveries for 15 years and counting', Genetics, vol. 216, no. 2, pp. 263-268.
Shropshire, JD, Kalra, M & Bordenstein, SR 2020, 'Evolution-guided mutagenesis of the cytoplasmic incompatibility proteins: Identifying CifA’s complex functional repertoire and new essential regions in CifB', PLoS pathogens, vol. 16, no. 8, e1008794.
Perlmutter, JI & Bordenstein, SR 2020, 'Microorganisms in the reproductive tissues of arthropods', Nature Reviews Microbiology, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 97-111.
Yang, Y, Zheng, W, Cai, Q, Shrubsole, MJ, Pei, Z, Brucker, R, Steinwandel, M, Bordenstein, SR, Li, Z, Blot, WJ, Shu, XO & Long, J 2020, 'Reply to Kenyon, “Are differences in the oral microbiome due to ancestry or socioeconomics?”', mSystems, vol. 5, no. 2, e00891-19.
Shropshire, JD, Leigh, B & Bordenstein, SR 2020, 'Symbiont-mediated cytoplasmic incompatibility: What have we learned in 50 years?', eLife, vol. 9, e61989, pp. 1-36.
Martiny, JBH, Whiteson, KL, Bohannan, BJM, David, LA, Hynson, NA, McFall-Ngai, M, Rawls, JF, Schmidt, TM, Abdo, Z, Blaser, MJ, Bordenstein, S, Bréchot, C, Bull, CT, Dorrestein, P, Eisen, JA, Garcia-Pichel, F, Gilbert, J, Hofmockel, KS, Holtz, ML, Knight, R, Mark Welch, DB, McDonald, D, Methé, B, Mouncey, NJ, Mueller, NT, Pfister, CA, Proctor, L & Sachs, JL 2020, 'The emergence of microbiome centres', Nature Microbiology, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 2-3.
Perlmutter, JI, Meyers, JE & Bordenstein, SR 2020, 'Transgenic testing does not support a role for additional candidate genes in Wolbachia male killing or cytoplasmic incompatibility', mSystems, vol. 5, no. 1, e00658-19.
McGenity, TJ, Gessesse, A, Hallsworth, JE, Garcia Cela, E, Verheecke-Vaessen, C, Wang, F, Chavarría, M, Haggblom, MM, Molin, S, Danchin, A, Smid, EJ, Lood, C, Cockell, CS, Whitby, C, Liu, SJ, Keller, NP, Stein, LY, Bordenstein, SR, Lal, R, Nunes, OC, Gram, L, Singh, BK, Webster, NS, Morris, C, Sivinski, S, Bindschedler, S, Junier, P, Antunes, A, Baxter, BK, Scavone, P & Timmis, K 2020, 'Visualizing the invisible: class excursions to ignite children’s enthusiasm for microbes', Microbial Biotechnology, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 844-887.