Seth Bordenstein , Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Associate Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Lab Url:

Phone Number: 615.322.9087 (office), 615.322.9094 (lab)

Email Address:

Bordenstein, Seth's picture

Office Address   Mailing Address

U7211 MRB III, 465 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37235

Vanderbilt University, Department of Biological Sciences, VU Station B, Box 35-1634, Nashville, TN 37235

Research Keywords
Systems biology of animal-microbe interactions, Microbiome, Maternal microbial transmission, Bacterial and viral genome evolution, Origin of species, Antibiotics, Horizontal gene transfer, Wolbachia

Research Specialty
Centrality of microbes in biology, Evolution and applications of microbes (genomics, antibiotics and vector control), Universality of maternal microbial transmission (including humans), Phylosymbiosis

Research Description
Welcome to the Bordenstein laboratory!

We ask non-linear questions to probe the rules of symbiosis, evolution, and their inseperable connections. Key questions that guide our science include:

1. What is the role of the microbiome in the origin of species?
2. Can viruses hack host-microbial symbioses to spread across the tree of life?
3. How does evolution inform the discovery and development of new antibiotics?
4. What is the relative importance of vertical and environmental microbial transmission in animals?

News & Events (Follow on Twitter @Symbionticism)

March 2015 - People Behind The Science Podcast with Seth | Seeing Science and Symbiosis Through the Lens of an Evolutionary Microbiologist

February 2015 - Congrats to Daniel LePage for earning a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant

January 2015 - Tandem-Repeat Domains Across the Tree of Life | New publication at PeerJ

December 2014 - Seth chats with Naked Scientists on antibiotic gene transfer across the tree of life and bioprospecting Archaea.

December 2014 - New publication at PeerJ by Daniel LePage et al. PeerJ link The relative importance of DNA methylation and Dnmt2-mediated epigenetic regulation on Wolbachia densities and cytoplasmic incompatibility.

November 2014 - Life's extremists may be an untapped source of antibacterial drugs. Vanderbilt Research News

Bordenstein, SR, Theis, KR. Host Biology in Light of the Microbiome: Ten Principles of Holobionts and Hologenomes. PLoS Biol, 13(8), e1002226, 2015.

Flynn, CR, Albaugh, VL, Cai, S, Cheung-Flynn, J, Williams, PE, Brucker, RM, Bordenstein, SR, Guo, Y, Wasserman, DH, Abumrad, NN. Bile diversion to the distal small intestine has comparable metabolic benefits to bariatric surgery. Nat Commun, 6, 7715, 2015.

Funkhouser-Jones, LJ, Sehnert, SR, Mart??nez-Rodr??guez, P, Toribio-Fern??ndez, R, Pita, M, Bella, JL, Bordenstein, SR. Wolbachia co-infection in a hybrid zone: discovery of horizontal gene transfers from two Wolbachia supergroups into an animal genome. PeerJ, 3, e1479, 2015.

Jernigan, KK, Bordenstein, SR. Tandem-repeat protein domains across the tree of life. PeerJ, 3, e732, 2015.

van Opstal, EJ, Bordenstein, SR. MICROBIOME. Rethinking heritability of the microbiome. Science, 349(6253), 1172-3, 2015.

Bordenstein, SR. Genomic and cellular complexity from symbiotic simplicity. Cell, 158(6), 1236-7, 2014.

Jernigan, KK, Bordenstein, SR. Ankyrin domains across the Tree of Life. PeerJ, 2, e264, 2014.

LePage, DP, Jernigan, KK, Bordenstein, SR. The relative importance of DNA methylation and Dnmt2-mediated epigenetic regulation on Wolbachia densities and cytoplasmic incompatibility. PeerJ, 2, e678, 2014.

Metcalf, JA, Funkhouser-Jones, LJ, Brileya, K, Reysenbach, AL, Bordenstein, SR. Antibacterial gene transfer across the tree of life. Elife, 3, , 2014.

Metcalf, JA, Jo, M, Bordenstein, SR, Jaenike, J, Bordenstein, SR. Recent genome reduction of Wolbachia in Drosophila recens targets phage WO and narrows candidates for reproductive parasitism. PeerJ, 2, e529, 2014.

Romano-Keeler, J, Moore, DJ, Wang, C, Brucker, RM, Fonnesbeck, C, Slaughter, JC, Li, H, Curran, DP, Meng, S, Correa, H, Lovvorn, HN, Tang, YW, Bordenstein, S, George, AL, Weitkamp, JH. Early life establishment of site-specific microbial communities in the gut. Gut Microbes, 5(2), 192-201, 2014.

Stilling, RM, Bordenstein, SR, Dinan, TG, Cryan, JF. Friends with social benefits: host-microbe interactions as a driver of brain evolution and development. Front Cell Infect Microbiol, 4, 147, 2014.

Brucker, RM, Bordenstein, SR. The capacious hologenome. Zoology (Jena), 116(5), 260-1, 2013.

Brucker, RM, Bordenstein, SR. The hologenomic basis of speciation: gut bacteria cause hybrid lethality in the genus Nasonia. Science, 341(6146), 667-9, 2013.

Duncan, SS, Valk, PL, McClain, MS, Shaffer, CL, Metcalf, JA, Bordenstein, SR, Cover, TL. Comparative genomic analysis of East Asian and non-Asian Helicobacter pylori strains identifies rapidly evolving genes. PLoS One, 8(1), e55120, 2013.

Funkhouser, LJ, Bordenstein, SR. Mom knows best: the universality of maternal microbial transmission. PLoS Biol, 11(8), e1001631, 2013.

LePage, D, Bordenstein, SR. Wolbachia: Can we save lives with a great pandemic. Trends Parasitol, 29(8), 385-93, 2013.

Brucker, RM, Bordenstein, SR. The roles of host evolutionary relationships (genus: Nasonia) and development in structuring microbial communities. Evolution, 66(2), 349-62, 2012.

Brucker, RM, Bordenstein, SR. In vitro cultivation of the hymenoptera genetic model, Nasonia. PLoS One, 7(12), e51269, 2012.

Brucker, RM, Bordenstein, SR. Speciation by symbiosis. Trends Ecol Evol, 27(8), 443-51, 2012.

Brucker, RM, Funkhouser, LJ, Setia, S, Pauly, R, Bordenstein, SR. Insect Innate Immunity Database (IIID): An Annotation Tool for Identifying Immune Genes in Insect Genomes. PLoS One, 7(9), e45125, 2012.

Duncan, SS, Valk, PL, Shaffer, CL, Bordenstein, SR, Cover, TL. J-Western forms of Helicobacter pylori cagA constitute a distinct phylogenetic group with a widespread geographic distribution. J Bacteriol, 194(6), 1593-604, 2012.

Metcalf, JA, Bordenstein, SR. The complexity of virus systems: the case of endosymbionts. Curr Opin Microbiol, , , 2012.

Bordenstein, SR, Bordenstein, SR. Temperature affects the tripartite interactions between bacteriophage WO, Wolbachia, and cytoplasmic incompatibility. PLoS One, 6(12), e29106, 2011.

Kent, BN, Funkhouser, LJ, Setia, S, Bordenstein, SR. Evolutionary genomics of a temperate bacteriophage in an obligate intracellular bacteria (Wolbachia). PLoS One, 6(9), e24984, 2011.

Kent, BN, Salichos, L, Gibbons, JG, Rokas, A, Newton, IL, Clark, ME, Bordenstein, SR. Complete bacteriophage transfer in a bacterial endosymbiont (Wolbachia) determined by targeted genome capture. Genome Biol Evol, 3, 209-18, 2011.

Chafee, ME, Funk, DJ, Harrison, RG, Bordenstein, SR. Lateral phage transfer in obligate intracellular bacteria (wolbachia): verification from natural populations. Mol Biol Evol, 27(3), 501-5, 2010.

Chafee, ME, Zecher, CN, Gourley, ML, Schmidt, VT, Chen, JH, Bordenstein, SR, Clark, ME, Bordenstein, SR. Decoupling of Host-Symbiont-Phage Coadaptations Following Transfer Between Insect Species. Genetics, , , 2010.

Gangwer, KA, Shaffer, CL, Suerbaum, S, Lacy, DB, Cover, TL, Bordenstein, SR. Molecular evolution of the Helicobacter pylori vacuolating toxin gene vacA. J Bacteriol, 192(23), 6126-35, 2010.

Kent, BN, Bordenstein, SR. Phage WO of Wolbachia: lambda of the endosymbiont world. Trends Microbiol, 18(4), 173-81, 2010.

Newton, IL, Bordenstein, SR. Correlations Between Bacterial Ecology and Mobile DNA. Curr Microbiol, , , 2010.

Bordenstein, SR, Paraskevopoulos, C, Dunning Hotopp, JC, Sapountzis, P, Lo, N, Bandi, C, Tettelin, H, Werren, JH, Bourtzis, K. Parasitism and mutualism in Wolbachia: what the phylogenomic trees can and can not say. Mol Biol Evol, 1(26), 231-241, 2009.

Ishmael, N, Hotopp, JC, Ioannidis, P, Biber, S, Sakamoto, J, Siozios, S, Nene, V, Werren, J, Bourtzis, K, Bordenstein, SR, Tettelin, H. Extensive genomic diversity of closely related Wolbachia strains. Microbiology, 155(Pt 7), 2211-22, 2009.

Bordenstein, SR. Discover the Microbes Within! The Wolbachia Project. Focus on Microbiology Education, 14(1), 4-5, 2007.

Bordenstein, SR. Evolutionary genomics: transdomain gene transfers. Curr Biol, 17(21), R935-6, 2007.

Bordenstein, SR, Werren, JH. Bidirectional incompatibility among divergent Wolbachia and incompatibility level differences among closely related Wolbachia in Nasonia. Heredity, 99(3), 278-87, 2007.

Ioannidis, P, Hotopp, JC, Sapountzis, P, Siozios, S, Tsiamis, G, Bordenstein, SR, Baldo, L, Werren, JH, Bourtzis, K. New criteria for selecting the origin of DNA replication in Wolbachia and closely related bacteria. BMC Genomics, 8, 182, 2007.

Lo, N, Paraskevopoulos, C, Bourtzis, K, O''Neill, SL, Werren, JH, Bordenstein, SR, Bandi, C. Taxonomic status of the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia pipientis. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol, 57(Pt 3), 654-7, 2007.

Sanogo, YO, Dobson, SL, Bordenstein, SR, Novak, RJ. Disruption of the Wolbachia surface protein gene wspB by a transposable element in mosquitoes of the Culex pipiens complex (Diptera, Culicidae). Insect Mol Biol, 16(2), 143-54, 2007.

Baldo, L, Bordenstein, S, Wernegreen, JJ, Werren, JH. Widespread recombination throughout Wolbachia genomes. Mol Biol Evol, 23(2), 437-49, 2006.

Baldo, L, Dunning Hotopp, JC, Jolley, KA, Bordenstein, SR, Biber, SA, Choudhury, RR, Hayashi, C, Maiden, MC, Tettelin, H, Werren, JH. Multilocus sequence typing system for the endosymbiont Wolbachia pipientis. Appl Environ Microbiol, 72(11), 7098-110, 2006.

Bordenstein, SR, Marshall, ML, Fry, AJ, Kim, U, Wernegreen, JJ. The tripartite associations between bacteriophage, Wolbachia, and arthropods. PLoS Pathog, 2(5), e43, 2006.

Paraskevopoulos, C, Bordenstein, SR, Wernegreen, JJ, Werren, JH, Bourtzis, K. Toward a Wolbachia multilocus sequence typing system: discrimination of Wolbachia strains present in Drosophila species. Curr Microbiol, 53(5), 388-95, 2006.

Bordenstein, S, Rosengaus, RB. Discovery of a novel Wolbachia super group in Isoptera. Curr Microbiol, 51(6), 393-8, 2005.

Bordenstein, SR, Reznikoff, WS. Mobile DNA in obligate intracellular bacteria. Nat Rev Microbiol, 3(9), 688-99, 2005.

Casiraghi, M, Bordenstein, SR, Baldo, L, Lo, N, Beninati, T, Wernegreen, JJ, Werren, JH, Bandi, C. Phylogeny of Wolbachia pipientis based on gltA, groEL and ftsZ gene sequences: clustering of arthropod and nematode symbionts in the F supergroup, and evidence for further diversity in the Wolbachia tree. Microbiology, 151(Pt 12), 4015-22, 2005.

Bordenstein, SR, Wernegreen, JJ. Bacteriophage flux in endosymbionts (Wolbachia): infection frequency, lateral transfer, and recombination rates. Mol Biol Evol, 21(10), 1981-91, 2004.

Reznikoff, WS, Bordenstein, SR, Apodaca, J. Comparative sequence analysis of IS50/Tn5 transposase. J Bacteriol, 186(24), 8240-7, 2004.

Bordenstein, SR. Symbiosis and the Origin of Species. In Insect Symbiosis, 2, 283-304, 2003.

Bordenstein, SR, Fitch, DH, Werren, JH. Absence of wolbachia in nonfilariid nematodes. J Nematol, 35(3), 266-70, 2003.

Bordenstein, SR, Uy, JJ, Werren, JH. Host genotype determines cytoplasmic incompatibility type in the haplodiploid genus Nasonia. Genetics, 164(1), 223-33, 2003.

Wernegreen, JJ, Degnan, PH, Lazarus, AB, Palacios, C, Bordenstein, SR. Genome evolution in an insect cell: distinct features of an ant-bacterial partnership. Biol Bull, 204(2), 221-31, 2003.

Bordenstein, SR, O''Hara, FP, Werren, JH. Wolbachia-induced incompatibility precedes other hybrid incompatibilities in Nasonia. Nature, 409(6821), 707-10, 2001.

Bordenstein, SR, Drapeau, MD, Werren, JH. Intraspecific variation in sexual isolation in the jewel wasp Nasonia. Evolution Int J Org Evolution, 54(2), 567-73, 2000.

Bordenstein, SR, Werren, JH. Do Wolbachia influence fecundity in Nasonia vitripennis. Heredity, 84 ( Pt 1), 54-62, 2000.

Bordenstein, SR, Werren, JH. Effects of A and B Wolbachia and host genotype on interspecies cytoplasmic incompatibility in Nasonia. Genetics, 148(4), 1833-44, 1998.

Postdoctoral Position Available

Postdoctoral Position Details
The Bordenstein Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN is seeking passionate postdocs in the areas of bioinformatics, multi-omics systems biology, microbial ecology, host-microbe interactions, or bacteriophage therapeutics.

Application deadline: until position is filled

How to apply: send C.V., a letter of inquiry, three representative publications (if available), and contact information for three potential referees to:

More information about the Bordenstein lab can be found at our website.

Vanderbilt University campus is a National Arboretum located in the heart of Nashville, the capital of Tennessee. Known internationally as Music City USA, Nashville is also the home to professional sports teams, the Nashville Symphony, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and numerous activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Nashville, Tennessee is a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. Education required: * PhD in bioinformatics, symbiosis, genetics, evolutionary biology or closely related fields.

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