We use a variety of approaches to investigate several of the fundamental and conserved processes used by bacteria for propagation and growth, adaptation to stresses, and acquisition of new genes and traits via horizontal gene transfer. Our long term goals are to understand many of the molecular mechanisms and regulation underlying basic cellular processes in bacteria. Our organism of choice for these studies is usually the Gram positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis.
Our current efforts are focused in two important areas of biology: 1) the control of horizontal gene transfer, specifically the lifecycle, function, and control of integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs). These elements are widespread in bacteria and contribute greately to the spread of antibiotic resistances between organisms. 2) regulation of the initiation of DNA replication and the connections between replication and gene expression, with particular focus on the conserved replication initiator and transcription factor DnaA. This work is directly related to mechanisms controlling bacterial growth, survival, and stress responses.