Harwood, Carrie

Faculty Profile

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Last Name: 
[field_fname-formatted] [field_lname-formatted]
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Office Location: 

K-340B, Health Sciences Building

Office Phone: 
(206) 221-2848

Research Summary: 


In my laboratory we are interested in understanding how bacteria integrate diverse environmental signals and diverse metabolic modules to function at the whole cell level. We rely heavily on genome sequencing, mutant construction and analysis and transcriptome analysis for our work.

A major area of interest is in sensory signal transduction and biofilm formation in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The lungs of most cystic fibrosis patients become chronically infected with the bacterium P. aeruginosa and this persistent infection causes severe lung damage. P. aeruginosa is damaging to lungs in part because it is able to form biofilms in the environment of the lung. We have been studying a signal transduction complex comprised of six proteins that controls biofilm formation by modulating intracellular levels of a secondary intracellular messenger called cyclic di-GMP. This signal transduction system somehow senses surfaces. We want to know how P. aeruginosa senses surfaces and how it translates this information via c-di-GMP to initiate biofilm formation.

A second area of emphasis involves the metabolically versatile photosynthetic bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris also known as Rpal. Rpal is an excellent model organism for studying bacterial mechanisms of long-term survival and also for studying regulation of photosynthesis. It stays alive for periods of months in a starved non-growing state as long as it is provided with light. Our goal is to generate foundational knowledge that will improve our ability to use non-growing photosynthetic bacteria as biocatalysts to convert inexpensive feedstock compounds to hydrogen gas or other biofuels. Towards this end we are trying to understand signal transduction cascades involved in the regulation of photosynthesis at low light. We are also working to define genes that are important for long term survival of non-growing cells.

A final more recent interest, developed in collaboration with E. Peter Greenberg in the Department, is in novel quorum sensing signals for bacterial cell-to-cell communication. We are also exploring signaling between bacteria and the plantPopulus

Short Research Description: 
sensory transduction in bacteria
Areas of Interest: 
Microbiology, Infection & Immunity
<p> microbiology, signal transduction, metabolism, bacteria, biofuels, Pseudomonas, biofilms, photosynthesis, host-microbe interactions</p>

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