Carla Y. Bonilla

Assistant Professor of Biology

I am fascinated by the ability of bacteria to survive in all kinds of environments. My research focuses on studying the response to environmental changes of the soil bacterium, Bacillus subtilis; that allow it to survive stressful conditions. B. subtilis is the model Gram positive organism because of its ease of genetic manipulation, sequenced genome and conservation with other pathogenic bacterial species. Bacteria, pathogenic and nonpathogenic, live in complex environments and must monitor their surroundings for nutrients, noxious chemicals, predators, etc. They accomplish this by using proteins that sense the environment (sensor proteins) and proteins that enact changes in gene expression (transcription factors) that alter the physiology of the cell to accommodate the changing conditions. I am interested in understanding the proteins involved in this bacterium’s stress responses at a molecular level.