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Joel Griffitts

Joel Griffitts

Dept Chair, Microbiology
Microbiology & Molecular Biology

4007 LSB
Provo, UT 84602

I am a native of Lodi, CA, and was trained in the biological sciences at UC San Diego (Ph.D.) and Stanford (B.S. and later postdoctoral work), pursuing diverse topics including plant cell biology, animal-pathogen interactions, and the nitrogen fixing symbiosis between rhizobia and legumes. I enjoy teaching in a way that compels clear communication and that confronts students with the kinds of problems encountered in modern-day research settings. Outside of science, I enjoy distance running, baking, and spending time with family.

Teaching Interests
Molecular Biology, Bacterial Genetics, Scientific Writing

Research Interests
My research group seeks to understand mechanisms of biological versatility in bacteria, including the ability to cooperate with eukaryotic host organisms and to acquire tolerance to abiotic stressors such as heavy metals and salt. With the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, our team is also learning to repurpose ancient enzymatic pathways to generate novel and diverse peptide-based antimicrobial compounds. Several smaller projects in the lab focus on engineering bacterial gene expression modules for better control of protein production in the biotech setting.

Stanford University, Biological Sciences, Postdoctoral scholar (2004-2006)
University of California, San Diego, Biological Sciences, Ph.D. (2004)
Stanford University, Biological Sciences, B.Sc. (1999)

Honors and Awards
BYU College of Life Sciences : College Outstanding Research Award
National Science Foundation : NSF CAREER Award
National Science Foundation : NSF Mid-Career Investigator Award
Brigham Young University : BYU Young Scholar Award
The White House : Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
HHW Foundation : Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship
NIH : Ruth L. Kirschtein Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)


GC diCenzo, M Zamani, A Checcucci, M Fondi, JS Griffitts, TM Finan, A Mengoni. Multidisciplinary approaches for studying rhizobium-legume symbioses. Can J Microbiol. 65(1):1-33 (2019).

GC diCenzo, AB Benedict, M Fondi, GC Walker, TM Finan, A Mengoni, JS Griffitts. Robustness encoded across essential and accessory replicons of the ecologically versatile bacterium Sinorhizobium
meliloti. PLoS Genet. 14(4):e1007357 (2018).

A Metagenome-wide association study and arrayed mutant library confirm Acetobacter lipopolysaccharide genes are necessary for association with Drosophila melanogaster. KM White, MK Matthews, RC Hughes, AJ Sommer, JS Griffitts, PD Newell, JM Chaston. G3 ( Bethesda). 8(4):1119-1127 (2018).

MA Olson, TW Siebach, JS Griffitts, E Wilson, DL Erickson. Genome-Wide Identification of Fitness Factors in Mastitis-Associated Escherichia coli. Appl Environ Microbiol. Jan 2;84(2) (2018).

MFF Arnold, M Shabab, J Penterman, KL Boehme, JS Griffitts, GC Walker. Genome-wide sensitivity analysis of the microsymbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti to symbiotically important, defensin-like host peptides. mBio. 8(4)e01060-17 (2017).

S Yang, Q Wang, E Fedorova, J Liu, Q Qin, Q Zheng, PA Price, H Pan, D Wang, JS Griffitts, T Bisseling, H Zhu. Microsymbiont discrimination mediated by a host-secreted peptide in Medicago truncatula. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 114(26):6848-6853 (2017).

PR Bennallack, JS Griffitts. Elucidating and engineering thiopeptide biosynthesis. World J Microbiol Biotechnol. 33(6):119 (2017).

KD Bewley, PR Bennallack, MA Burlingame, RA Robison, JS Griffitts, Miller SM. Capture of micrococcin biosynthetic intermediates reveals C-terminal processing as an obligatory step for in vivo maturation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 113(44):12450-12455 (2016).

M Shabab, MF Arnold, J Penterman, AJ Wommack, HT Bocker, PA Price, JS Griffitts, EM Nolan, GC Walker. Disulfide cross-linking influences symbiotic activities of nodule peptide NCR247. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 113(36):10157-62 (2016).

PR Bennallack, KD Bewley, MA Burlingame, RA Robison, SM Miller, JS Griffitts. Reconstitution and Minimization of a Micrococcin Biosynthetic Pathway in Bacillus subtilis. J Bacteriol. 198(18):2431-8 (2016).

PA Price, HR Tanner, BA Dillon, M Shabab, GC Walker, JS Griffitts. Rhizobial peptidase HrrP cleaves host-encoded signaling peptides and mediates symbiotic compatibility. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 112(49):15244-9 (2015).

RD VanYperen, TS Orton, JS Griffitts. Genetic analysis of signal integration by the Sinorhizobium meliloti sensor kinase FeuQ. Microbiology 161(Pt 2):244-53 (2014).

PR Bennallack, SR Burt, MJ Heder, RA Robison, JS Griffitts. Characterization of a novel plasmid-borne thiopeptide gene cluster in Staphylococcus epidermidis strain 115. J Bacteriol. 196:4344-50 (2014).

MB Crook, AL Draper, RJ Guillory, and JS Griffitts. The Sinorhizobium meliloti essential porin RopA1 is a target for numerous bacteriophages. J. Bacteriol. 195:3663-71 (2013).

MB Crook, DP Lindsay, MB Biggs, JS Bentley, JC Price, SC Clement, MJ Clement, SR Long, and JS Griffitts. Rhizobial plasmids that cause impaired symbiotic nitrogen fixation and enhanced host invasion. Mol Plant Microbe In 25:1026-33 (2012).

CL Harrison, MB Crook, G Peco, SR Long, and JS Griffitts. Employing site-specific recombination for conditional genetic analysis in Sinorhizobium meliloti. Appl Environ Microbiol 77:3916-22 (2011).

RE Carlyon, JL Ryther, RD VanYperen, and JS Griffitts. FeuN, A novel modulator of two- component signaling identified in Sinorhizobium meliloti. Mol Microbiol 77:170-82 (2010).

D Wang, JS Griffitts, C Starker, E Federova, E Limpens, S Ivanov, T Bisseling, and SR Long. A nodule specific prot rogen-fixing symbiosis. Science 327:1126-9 (2010).