Qinghu Ren

Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Publications (49)562.75 Total impact

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    Advances in enzymology and related areas of molecular biology 01/2011; 77:147-66.
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    ABSTRACT: The GacS/GacA signal transduction system is a central regulator in Pseudomonas spp., including the biological control strain P. fluorescens Pf-5, in which GacS/GacA controls the production of secondary metabolites and exoenzymes that suppress plant pathogens. A whole genome oligonucleotide microarray was developed for Pf-5 and used to assess the global transcriptomic consequences of a gacA mutation in P. fluorescens Pf-5. In cultures at the transition from exponential to stationary growth phase, GacA significantly influenced transcript levels of 635 genes, representing more than 10% of the 6147 annotated genes in the Pf-5 genome. Transcripts of genes involved in the production of hydrogen cyanide, the antibiotic pyoluteorin and the extracellular protease AprA were at a low level in the gacA mutant, whereas those functioning in siderophore production and other aspects of iron homeostasis were significantly higher in the gacA mutant than in wild-type Pf-5. Notable effects of gacA inactivation were also observed in the transcription of genes encoding components of a type VI secretion system and cytochrome c oxidase subunits. Two novel gene clusters expressed under the control of gacA were identified from transcriptome analysis, and we propose global-regulator-based genome mining as an approach to decipher the secondary metabolome of Pseudomonas spp.
    Environmental Microbiology 04/2010; 12(4):899-915. · 6.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Haloferax volcanii is an easily culturable moderate halophile that grows on simple defined media, is readily transformable, and has a relatively stable genome. This, in combination with its biochemical and genetic tractability, has made Hfx. volcanii a key model organism, not only for the study of halophilicity, but also for archaeal biology in general. We report here the sequencing and analysis of the genome of Hfx. volcanii DS2, the type strain of this species. The genome contains a main 2.848 Mb chromosome, three smaller chromosomes pHV1, 3, 4 (85, 438, 636 kb, respectively) and the pHV2 plasmid (6.4 kb). The completed genome sequence, presented here, provides an invaluable tool for further in vivo and in vitro studies of Hfx. volcanii.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(3):e9605. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA7 is a non-respiratory human isolate from Argentina that is multiresistant to antibiotics. We first sequenced gyrA, gyrB, parC, parE, ampC, ampR, and several housekeeping genes and found that PA7 is a taxonomic outlier. We report here the complete sequence of the 6,588,339 bp genome, which has only about 95% overall identity to other strains. PA7 has multiple novel genomic islands and a total of 51 occupied regions of genomic plasticity. These islands include antibiotic resistance genes, parts of transposons, prophages, and a pKLC102-related island. Several PA7 genes not present in PAO1 or PA14 are putative orthologues of other Pseudomonas spp. and Ralstonia spp. genes. PA7 appears to be closely related to the known taxonomic outlier DSM1128 (ATCC9027). PA7 lacks several virulence factors, notably the entire TTSS region corresponding to PA1690-PA1725 of PAO1. It has neither exoS nor exoU and lacks toxA, exoT, and exoY. PA7 is serotype O12 and pyoverdin type II. Preliminary proteomic studies indicate numerous differences with PAO1, some of which are probably a consequence of a frameshift mutation in the mvfR quorum sensing regulatory gene.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(1):e8842. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phytophthora infestans is the most destructive pathogen of potato and a model organism for the oomycetes, a distinct lineage of fungus-like eukaryotes that are related to organisms such as brown algae and diatoms. As the agent of the Irish potato famine in the mid-nineteenth century, P. infestans has had a tremendous effect on human history, resulting in famine and population displacement. To this day, it affects world agriculture by causing the most destructive disease of potato, the fourth largest food crop and a critical alternative to the major cereal crops for feeding the world's population. Current annual worldwide potato crop losses due to late blight are conservatively estimated at $6.7 billion. Management of this devastating pathogen is challenged by its remarkable speed of adaptation to control strategies such as genetically resistant cultivars. Here we report the sequence of the P. infestans genome, which at approximately 240 megabases (Mb) is by far the largest and most complex genome sequenced so far in the chromalveolates. Its expansion results from a proliferation of repetitive DNA accounting for approximately 74% of the genome. Comparison with two other Phytophthora genomes showed rapid turnover and extensive expansion of specific families of secreted disease effector proteins, including many genes that are induced during infection or are predicted to have activities that alter host physiology. These fast-evolving effector genes are localized to highly dynamic and expanded regions of the P. infestans genome. This probably plays a crucial part in the rapid adaptability of the pathogen to host plants and underpins its evolutionary potential.
    Nature 10/2009; 461(7262):393-8. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The complete genomes of three strains from the phylum Acidobacteria were compared. Phylogenetic analysis placed them as a unique phylum. They share genomic traits with members of the Proteobacteria, the Cyanobacteria, and the Fungi. The three strains appear to be versatile heterotrophs. Genomic and culture traits indicate the use of carbon sources that span simple sugars to more complex substrates such as hemicellulose, cellulose, and chitin. The genomes encode low-specificity major facilitator superfamily transporters and high-affinity ABC transporters for sugars, suggesting that they are best suited to low-nutrient conditions. They appear capable of nitrate and nitrite reduction but not N(2) fixation or denitrification. The genomes contained numerous genes that encode siderophore receptors, but no evidence of siderophore production was found, suggesting that they may obtain iron via interaction with other microorganisms. The presence of cellulose synthesis genes and a large class of novel high-molecular-weight excreted proteins suggests potential traits for desiccation resistance, biofilm formation, and/or contribution to soil structure. Polyketide synthase and macrolide glycosylation genes suggest the production of novel antimicrobial compounds. Genes that encode a variety of novel proteins were also identified. The abundance of acidobacteria in soils worldwide and the breadth of potential carbon use by the sequenced strains suggest significant and previously unrecognized contributions to the terrestrial carbon cycle. Combining our genomic evidence with available culture traits, we postulate that cells of these isolates are long-lived, divide slowly, exhibit slow metabolic rates under low-nutrient conditions, and are well equipped to tolerate fluctuations in soil hydration.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 03/2009; 75(7):2046-56. · 3.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The extent to which cultured strains represent the genetic diversity of a population of microorganisms is poorly understood. Because they do not require culturing, metagenomic approaches have the potential to reveal the genetic diversity of the microbes actually present in an environment. From coastal California seawater, a complex and diverse environment, the marine cyanobacteria of the genus Synechococcus were enriched by flow cytometry-based sorting and the population metagenome was analysed with 454 sequencing technology. The sequence data were compared with model Synechococcus genomes, including those of two coastal strains, one isolated from the same and one from a very similar environment. The natural population metagenome had high sequence identity to most genes from the coastal model strains but diverged greatly from these genomes in multiple regions of atypical trinucleotide content that encoded diverse functions. These results can be explained by extensive horizontal gene transfer presumably with large differences in horizontally transferred genetic material between different strains. Some assembled contigs showed the presence of novel open reading frames not found in the model genomes, but these could not yet be unambiguously assigned to a Synechococcus clade. At least three distinct mobile DNA elements (plasmids) not found in model strain genomes were detected in the assembled contigs, suggesting for the first time their likely importance in marine cyanobacterial populations and possible role in horizontal gene transfer.
    Environmental Microbiology 03/2009; 11(2):349-59. · 6.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Brucella ovis is a veterinary pathogen associated with epididymitis in sheep. Despite its genetic similarity to the zoonotic pathogens B. abortus, B. melitensis and B. suis, B. ovis does not cause zoonotic disease. Genomic analysis of the type strain ATCC25840 revealed a high percentage of pseudogenes and increased numbers of transposable elements compared to the zoonotic Brucella species, suggesting that genome degradation has occurred concomitant with narrowing of the host range of B. ovis. The absence of genomic island 2, encoding functions required for lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis, as well as inactivation of genes encoding urease, nutrient uptake and utilization, and outer membrane proteins may be factors contributing to the avirulence of B. ovis for humans. A 26.5 kb region of B. ovis ATCC25840 Chromosome II was absent from all the sequenced human pathogenic Brucella genomes, but was present in all of 17 B. ovis isolates tested and in three B. ceti isolates, suggesting that this DNA region may be of use for differentiating B. ovis from other Brucella spp. This is the first genomic analysis of a non-zoonotic Brucella species. The results suggest that inactivation of genes involved in nutrient acquisition and utilization, cell envelope structure and urease may have played a role in narrowing of the tissue tropism and host range of B. ovis.
    PLoS ONE 02/2009; 4(5):e5519. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In order to enrich the phylogenetic diversity represented in the available sequenced bacterial genomes and as part of an "Assembling the Tree of Life" project, we determined the genome sequence of Thermomicrobium roseum DSM 5159. T. roseum DSM 5159 is a red-pigmented, rod-shaped, Gram-negative extreme thermophile isolated from a hot spring that possesses both an atypical cell wall composition and an unusual cell membrane that is composed entirely of long-chain 1,2-diols. Its genome is composed of two circular DNA elements, one of 2,006,217 bp (referred to as the chromosome) and one of 919,596 bp (referred to as the megaplasmid). Strikingly, though few standard housekeeping genes are found on the megaplasmid, it does encode a complete system for chemotaxis including both chemosensory components and an entire flagellar apparatus. This is the first known example of a complete flagellar system being encoded on a plasmid and suggests a straightforward means for lateral transfer of flagellum-based motility. Phylogenomic analyses support the recent rRNA-based analyses that led to T. roseum being removed from the phylum Thermomicrobia and assigned to the phylum Chloroflexi. Because T. roseum is a deep-branching member of this phylum, analysis of its genome provides insights into the evolution of the Chloroflexi. In addition, even though this species is not photosynthetic, analysis of the genome provides some insight into the origins of photosynthesis in the Chloroflexi. Metabolic pathway reconstructions and experimental studies revealed new aspects of the biology of this species. For example, we present evidence that T. roseum oxidizes CO aerobically, making it the first thermophile known to do so. In addition, we propose that glycosylation of its carotenoids plays a crucial role in the adaptation of the cell membrane to this bacterium's thermophilic lifestyle. Analyses of published metagenomic sequences from two hot springs similar to the one from which this strain was isolated, show that close relatives of T. roseum DSM 5159 are present but have some key differences from the strain sequenced.
    PLoS ONE 02/2009; 4(1):e4207. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The identification and annotation of protein-coding genes is one of the primary goals of whole-genome sequencing projects, and the accuracy of predicting the primary protein products of gene expression is vital to the interpretation of the available data and the design of downstream functional applications. Nevertheless, the comprehensive annotation of eukaryotic genomes remains a considerable challenge. Many genomes submitted to public databases, including those of major model organisms, contain significant numbers of wrong and incomplete gene predictions. We present a community-based reannotation of the Aspergillus nidulans genome with the primary goal of increasing the number and quality of protein functional assignments through the careful review of experts in the field of fungal biology.
    Fungal Genetics and Biology 01/2009; 46 Suppl 1:S2-13. · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax is responsible for 25-40% of the approximately 515 million annual cases of malaria worldwide. Although seldom fatal, the parasite elicits severe and incapacitating clinical symptoms and often causes relapses months after a primary infection has cleared. Despite its importance as a major human pathogen, P. vivax is little studied because it cannot be propagated continuously in the laboratory except in non-human primates. We sequenced the genome of P. vivax to shed light on its distinctive biological features, and as a means to drive development of new drugs and vaccines. Here we describe the synteny and isochore structure of P. vivax chromosomes, and show that the parasite resembles other malaria parasites in gene content and metabolic potential, but possesses novel gene families and potential alternative invasion pathways not recognized previously. Completion of the P. vivax genome provides the scientific community with a valuable resource that can be used to advance investigation into this neglected species.
    Nature 11/2008; 455(7214):757-63. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sulfur-oxidizing epsilonproteobacteria are common in a variety of sulfidogenic environments. These autotrophic and mixotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria are believed to contribute substantially to the oxidative portion of the global sulfur cycle. In order to better understand the ecology and roles of sulfur-oxidizing epsilonproteobacteria, in particular those of the widespread genus Sulfurimonas, in biogeochemical cycles, the genome of Sulfurimonas denitrificans DSM1251 was sequenced. This genome has many features, including a larger size (2.2 Mbp), that suggest a greater degree of metabolic versatility or responsiveness to the environment than seen for most of the other sequenced epsilonproteobacteria. A branched electron transport chain is apparent, with genes encoding complexes for the oxidation of hydrogen, reduced sulfur compounds, and formate and the reduction of nitrate and oxygen. Genes are present for a complete, autotrophic reductive citric acid cycle. Many genes are present that could facilitate growth in the spatially and temporally heterogeneous sediment habitat from where Sulfurimonas denitrificans was originally isolated. Many resistance-nodulation-development family transporter genes (10 total) are present; of these, several are predicted to encode heavy metal efflux transporters. An elaborate arsenal of sensory and regulatory protein-encoding genes is in place, as are genes necessary to prevent and respond to oxidative stress.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 03/2008; 74(4):1145-56. · 3.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The deluge of data generated by genome sequencing has led to an increasing reliance on bioinformatic predictions, since the traditional experimental approach of characterizing gene function one at a time cannot possibly keep pace with the sequence-based discovery of novel genes. We have utilized Biolog phenotype MicroArrays to identify phenotypes of gene knockout mutants in the opportunistic pathogen and versatile soil bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a relatively high-throughput fashion. Seventy-eight P. aeruginosa mutants defective in predicted sugar and amino acid membrane transporter genes were screened and clear phenotypes were identified for 27 of these. In all cases, these phenotypes were confirmed by independent growth assays on minimal media. Using qRT-PCR, we demonstrate that the expression levels of 11 of these transporter genes were induced from 4- to 90-fold by their substrates identified via phenotype analysis. Overall, the experimental data showed the bioinformatic predictions to be largely correct in 22 out of 27 cases, and led to the identification of novel transporter genes and a potentially new histamine catabolic pathway. Thus, rapid phenotype identification assays are an invaluable tool for confirming and extending bioinformatic predictions.
    PLoS Genetics 02/2008; 4(10):e1000211. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report here the sequencing and analysis of the genome of the nitrogen-fixing endophyte, Klebsiella pneumoniae 342. Although K. pneumoniae 342 is a member of the enteric bacteria, it serves as a model for studies of endophytic, plant-bacterial associations due to its efficient colonization of plant tissues (including maize and wheat, two of the most important crops in the world), while maintaining a mutualistic relationship that encompasses supplying organic nitrogen to the host plant. Genomic analysis examined K. pneumoniae 342 for the presence of previously identified genes from other bacteria involved in colonization of, or growth in, plants. From this set, approximately one-third were identified in K. pneumoniae 342, suggesting additional factors most likely contribute to its endophytic lifestyle. Comparative genome analyses were used to provide new insights into this question. Results included the identification of metabolic pathways and other features devoted to processing plant-derived cellulosic and aromatic compounds, and a robust complement of transport genes (15.4%), one of the highest percentages in bacterial genomes sequenced. Although virulence and antibiotic resistance genes were predicted, experiments conducted using mouse models showed pathogenicity to be attenuated in this strain. Comparative genomic analyses with the presumed human pathogen K. pneumoniae MGH78578 revealed that MGH78578 apparently cannot fix nitrogen, and the distribution of genes essential to surface attachment, secretion, transport, and regulation and signaling varied between each genome, which may indicate critical divergences between the strains that influence their preferred host ranges and lifestyles (endophytic plant associations for K. pneumoniae 342 and presumably human pathogenesis for MGH78578). Little genome information is available concerning endophytic bacteria. The K. pneumoniae 342 genome will drive new research into this less-understood, but important category of bacterial-plant host relationships, which could ultimately enhance growth and nutrition of important agricultural crops and development of plant-derived products and biofuels.
    PLoS Genetics 01/2008; 4(7):e1000141. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Babesia bovis is an apicomplexan tick-transmitted pathogen of cattle imposing a global risk and severe constraints to livestock health and economic development. The complete genome sequence was undertaken to facilitate vaccine antigen discovery, and to allow for comparative analysis with the related apicomplexan hemoprotozoa Theileria parva and Plasmodium falciparum. At 8.2 Mbp, the B. bovis genome is similar in size to that of Theileria spp. Structural features of the B. bovis and T. parva genomes are remarkably similar, and extensive synteny is present despite several chromosomal rearrangements. In contrast, B. bovis and P. falciparum, which have similar clinical and pathological features, have major differences in genome size, chromosome number, and gene complement. Chromosomal synteny with P. falciparum is limited to microregions. The B. bovis genome sequence has allowed wide scale analyses of the polymorphic variant erythrocyte surface antigen protein (ves1 gene) family that, similar to the P. falciparum var genes, is postulated to play a role in cytoadhesion, sequestration, and immune evasion. The approximately 150 ves1 genes are found in clusters that are distributed throughout each chromosome, with an increased concentration adjacent to a physical gap on chromosome 1 that contains multiple ves1-like sequences. ves1 clusters are frequently linked to a novel family of variant genes termed smorfs that may themselves contribute to immune evasion, may play a role in variant erythrocyte surface antigen protein biology, or both. Initial expression analysis of ves1 and smorf genes indicates coincident transcription of multiple variants. B. bovis displays a limited metabolic potential, with numerous missing pathways, including two pathways previously described for the P. falciparum apicoplast. This reduced metabolic potential is reflected in the B. bovis apicoplast, which appears to have fewer nuclear genes targeted to it than other apicoplast containing organisms. Finally, comparative analyses have identified several novel vaccine candidates including a positional homolog of p67 and SPAG-1, Theileria sporozoite antigens targeted for vaccine development. The genome sequence provides a greater understanding of B. bovis metabolism and potential avenues for drug therapies and vaccine development.
    PLoS Pathogens 11/2007; 3(10):1401-13. · 8.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a unicellular green alga whose lineage diverged from land plants over 1 billion years ago. It is a model system for studying chloroplast-based photosynthesis, as well as the structure, assembly, and function of eukaryotic flagella (cilia), which were inherited from the common ancestor of plants and animals, but lost in land plants. We sequenced the approximately 120-megabase nuclear genome of Chlamydomonas and performed comparative phylogenomic analyses, identifying genes encoding uncharacterized proteins that are likely associated with the function and biogenesis of chloroplasts or eukaryotic flagella. Analyses of the Chlamydomonas genome advance our understanding of the ancestral eukaryotic cell, reveal previously unknown genes associated with photosynthetic and flagellar functions, and establish links between ciliopathy and the composition and function of flagella.
    Science. 10/2007; 318(5848):245-250.
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    ABSTRACT: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a unicellular green alga whose lineage diverged from land plants over 1 billion years ago. It is a model system for studying chloroplast-based photosynthesis, as well as the structure, assembly, and function of eukaryotic flagella (cilia), which were inherited from the common ancestor of plants and animals, but lost in land plants. We sequenced the approximately 120-megabase nuclear genome of Chlamydomonas and performed comparative phylogenomic analyses, identifying genes encoding uncharacterized proteins that are likely associated with the function and biogenesis of chloroplasts or eukaryotic flagella. Analyses of the Chlamydomonas genome advance our understanding of the ancestral eukaryotic cell, reveal previously unknown genes associated with photosynthetic and flagellar functions, and establish links between ciliopathy and the composition and function of flagella.
    Science 10/2007; 318(5848):245-250. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a unicellular green alga whose lineage diverged from land plants over 1 billion years ago. It is a model system for studying chloroplast-based photosynthesis, as well as the structure, assembly, and function of eukaryotic flagella (cilia), which were inherited from the common ancestor of plants and animals, but lost in land plants. We sequenced the ~120-megabase nuclear genome of Chlamydomonas and performed comparative phylogenomic analyses, identifying genes encoding uncharacterized proteins that are likely associated with the function and biogenesis of chloroplasts or eukaryotic flagella. Analyses of the Chlamydomonas genome advance our understanding of the ancestral eukaryotic cell, reveal previously unknown genes associated with photosynthetic and flagellar functions, and establish links between ciliopathy and the composition and function of flagella.
    Science 10/2007; 318(5848):245-. · 31.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Parasitic nematodes that cause elephantiasis and river blindness threaten hundreds of millions of people in the developing world. We have sequenced the approximately 90 megabase (Mb) genome of the human filarial parasite Brugia malayi and predict approximately 11,500 protein coding genes in 71 Mb of robustly assembled sequence. Comparative analysis with the free-living, model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans revealed that, despite these genes having maintained little conservation of local synteny during approximately 350 million years of evolution, they largely remain in linkage on chromosomal units. More than 100 conserved operons were identified. Analysis of the predicted proteome provides evidence for adaptations of B. malayi to niches in its human and vector hosts and insights into the molecular basis of a mutualistic relationship with its Wolbachia endosymbiont. These findings offer a foundation for rational drug design.
    Science 10/2007; 317(5845):1756-60. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bacterioplankton of the marine Roseobacter clade have genomes that reflect a dynamic environment and diverse interactions with marine plankton. Comparative genome sequence analysis of three cultured representatives suggests that cellular requirements for nitrogen are largely provided by regenerated ammonium and organic compounds (polyamines, allophanate, and urea), while typical sources of carbon include amino acids, glyoxylate, and aromatic metabolites. An unexpectedly large number of genes are predicted to encode proteins involved in the production, degradation, and efflux of toxins and metabolites. A mechanism likely involved in cell-to-cell DNA or protein transfer was also discovered: vir-related genes encoding a type IV secretion system typical of bacterial pathogens. These suggest a potential for interacting with neighboring cells and impacting the routing of organic matter into the microbial loop. Genes shared among the three roseobacters and also common in nine draft Roseobacter genomes include those for carbon monoxide oxidation, dimethylsulfoniopropionate demethylation, and aromatic compound degradation. Genes shared with other cultured marine bacteria include those for utilizing sodium gradients, transport and metabolism of sulfate, and osmoregulation.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 08/2007; 73(14):4559-69. · 3.95 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

6k Citations
562.75 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2010–2011
    • Macquarie University
      • Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences
      Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    • Laval University
      • Département de Biochimie et de Microbiologie
      Québec, Quebec, Canada
    • Johns Hopkins University
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2007–2010
    • J. Craig Venter Institute
      Maryland, United States
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      Los Angeles, CA, United States
    • University of Maryland, College Park
      • Department of Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
      Maryland, United States
    • The Rockefeller University
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2009
    • University of Melbourne
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • University of California, Davis
      Davis, California, United States
    • Oregon State University
      Corvallis, Oregon, United States
  • 2004–2007
    • Biomedical Research Institute, Rockville
      Maryland, United States
  • 2006
    • University of California, San Diego
      San Diego, California, United States
  • 2001–2003
    • University of Rochester
      • Department of Biology
      Rochester, NY, United States