Friday, December 21, 2018

Two Postdoc Positions Available

Two postdoctoral positions are offered to join the Bordenstein Lab in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. The candidates will join one of two projects.
  • (Closed) The first project seeks applicants with interests and/or skill sets in personalized medicine and multi-omic analyses (genome, metabolome, metagenome, and metallome) to investigate the consequences of diet, ethnicity, and genetic variation on the human microbiome (recent paper). The candidate will join and have the opportunity to take a leading role in the fast growing, trans-institutional Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative.  Strong computational expertise (data analysis, coding, and bioinformatics) will be important in this position.
  • (Closed) The second project seeks applicants with interests and skill sets in animal-microbe interactions, evolution, endosymbiosis, phylosymbiosis, quantitative genetics, transcriptomes, fluorescent microscopy, or gene knockdowns/knockouts. The candidate will in part join a National Science Foundation project to study the genetic basis of symbioses between insects (Nasonia parasitoid wasps) and endosymbiotic bacteria (Wolbachia). The candidate will also participate in launching a second project (related paper) on the genetic basis of phylosymbiosis (host phylogenetic signal in the gut microbiome) and speciation. 
More information about the lab, topics, and systems can be found at the lab website:

Additional information and resources for postdocs at Vanderbilt can be found at the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and Postdoctoral Resources pages.

If interested, please contact Seth Bordenstein immediately with a single pdf including (i) earliest start date (ii) a full curriculum vitae noting at least three references (iii) a statement of intent, career goal, research experience, and areas of growth and (iv) two example publications or other writings.

Vanderbilt University campus is a National Arboretum located in the heart of Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, and known internationally as “Music City USA”. Nashville is also the home to Nashville Hot Chicken, 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.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

New publication on the ethnicity hypothesis for gut microbiome variation

Our latest research published at PLOS Biology last week answers the question of whether self-declared ethnicity significantly associates with the diversity of microbes in human gut microbiomes, particularly from individuals residing in the same country. Importantly, results are replicated across two datasets within the United States of America, and we identify 12 microbial taxa that consistently vary in abundance between ethnicities. Machine learning approaches were able to predict ethnicity from the gut microbiome data alone. Many of the 12 taxa also associate with human genotype variation, and some have been linked to gut health disparities. While the work remains to be replicated in larger datasets, this one is a small step towards potentially adding the microbiome into more personalized health and medicine approaches. The work was led by senior graduate student Andy Brooks and was conducted in collaboration with the Blekhman lab at the University of Minnesota.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative website

The Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative (VMI), sponsored by the Vanderbilt University Trans-Institutional Programs, is very pleased to announce the launch of its new website. VMI aims to unify the community within and beyond the region, support innovative research, and engage in outreach and science education.

As the science of the microbiome matures, Vanderbilt will lead basic, translational, and clinical research, build new devices and technologies, help communicate the research, evaluate new developments, fund new projects, and train the next generation of scientists, philosophers, lawyers, and educators in this discipline.

Check in for recent research and education developments, resources, awards, etc. Join us there!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

New paper on the phage genes that hijack animal reproduction

Wolbachia are maternally transmitted bacteria that are estimated to infect millions of arthropod species worldwide. One of Wolbachia's greatest weapons is the ability to poison sperm and nullify that poison in eggs, all of which enable the bacteria to spread like wildfire in arthropods and to control mosquitoes. Indeed, the World Health Organization recently recommended pilot deployment of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to curb viral transmission to humans. Turns out that under the hood of this cunning phenomena called cytoplasmic incompatibility is a simple genetic basis: two phage genes poison the sperm and one of those same genes ensures the infected eggs live. Ergo, the 'Two-by-One' model of cytoplasmic incompatibility by talented graduate student Dylan Shropshire, former undergraduate and technician Danny On, and two current undergraduates Helen Zhou and Emily Layton. See below for a link to the paper, VU news story, and graphical summary.


Vanderbilt Research:

Graphical Summary:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Postdoctoral position in functional genetics of animal-microbe symbioses

(Note: Position is no longer available; applicants with independent funding are welcome)

A postdoctoral position is available in the Bordenstein laboratory ( to functionally characterize endosymbiont-host interactions in Drosophila. This project will dissect the number and types of Drosophila genes and functional pathways that are manipulated by bacteria in the genus Wolbachia. The candidate will develop methods and apply multiple technologies to dissect how the bacteria modify fly embryonic development and induce lethality at the molecular, genetic, and/or biochemical levels. As Wolbachia are increasingly relevant to vector control efforts to curb arbovirus transmission, translational aspects of this work include development of transgenic strategies for vector and pest control.

Applicants soon to acquire their Ph.D. or with previous postgraduate experience are welcome. Applicants should have a demonstrated ability to work both independently and collaboratively, possess excellent oral and written communication skills, and have a record of productivity as evidenced by publication history. Successful candidates will have some of the following skills: proteomics, transcriptomics, functional genetics, computational biology, Drosophila and Wolbachia rearing, fluorescent microscopy, molecular evolution, and molecular biology of phages. 

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 and has been named one of the 15 best U.S. cities for work and family and one of the 25 cities most likely to have the country's highest job growth over the coming five years. Major industries include tourism, printing and publishing, technology manufacturing, music production, higher education, finance, insurance, automobile production and health care management.

To apply, please send a single pdf including a cover letter stating career interests, research strengths, areas to develop, earliest start date, curriculum vitae, an example publication, and contact information for three or more references to 

The position is available now and renewable up to two years contingent upon satisfactory performance. Salary is commensurate with experience and includes a comprehensive benefits package. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.