Bacteria are faced with a constantly changing environment. These changes often include great fluxes in nutrient availability, variations in pH, temperature swings and reactive oxidative species. Bacteria employ many strategies in order to survive environmental stresses, and many of these adaptations are important for pathogenesis as well. The Fozo lab seeks to understand how bacteria adapt to stressful conditions and how these adaptations are linked to pathogenesis. In particular, our studies focus on two organisms that are capable of adapting to a variety of stress conditions: Enterococcus faecalis, a vancomycin-resistant organism responsible for many hospital acquired infections, and E. coli O157:H7, a potentially deadly food-borne pathogen. Our research and the work of others have shown that these organisms possess numerous genes encoding small, regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) and small proteins (under 50 amino acids in length). We are using a series of genetic and molecular techniques to decipher whether these genes contribute to the stress resistance pathways of E. faecalis and E. coli.

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UTK Micro