Skip to content

Distinguished Lecture Series

“What is Life? Conserved Functional Domains from a Hundred Thousand Bacterial Genomes" presented by Dr. David D. Ussery

Can we define the basic functions of life, based on conserved functional domains? Advances in high-throughput genome sequencing has allowed comparisons of hundreds of thousands of genomes. We find about 500 Pfam domains that are present in nearly all bacterial genomes. These domains represent the basic processes of life, such as replication, transcription and translation, as well as basic metabolic pathways. Most of these functional domains are also found in Archaea and Eukaryotes, allowing the reconstruction of the basic functions for all of life.

This basic knowledge can be leveraged to understand mechanisms for microbial pathogenesis. For example, the E. coli core genome contains about 3100 gene families, whilst the Enteropathogenic E. coli core contains a set of additional pathogen-specific gene families, including toxins, adhesions, unique transcription factors, as well as antibiotic resistance genes. Advances in third generation sequencing allows for rapid and inexpensive analysis of clinical isolates, for as little as $20 per sample, and only a few hours time from sample collection to results.

About Dr. Ussery

Professor David Ussery was born and raised in Springdale, Arkansas. He has been working with bioinformatic analysis of bacterial genomes since the first sequence was published in 1995, and published one of the first text books in the field of Comparative Genomics. He has published more than 200 papers, which have been cited more than 10,000 times, including two papers with more than a thousand citations. He has been a co-applicant on grants funded totaling more than $30 million, since 2010. His popular course on Comparative Microbial Genomics, taught at The Technical University of Denmark from 1997 - 2013, is currently running for the 19th year; one-week workshops based on this course have been held in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Professor Ussery has collaborative projects with groups in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, as well as in the U.S.

Prior to joining UAMS, Dr. Ussery was the Comparative Genomics Group leader at Oak Ridge National Labs, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (2013-2016). He led the Comparative Microbial Genomics group at The Technical University of Denmark from 1997 – 2013, where he has successfully supervised more than 20 PhD students in bioinformatics.

Professor Ussery received a doctorate in Molecular Biology in1993 from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and did a post-doctoral fellowship at Oxford University (1992-1996). He earned his master’s degree in biophysical chemistry at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from William Jewell College (Liberty, Missouri) in 1982, and graduated from Springdale High School (Springdale, Arkansas) in 1978.

vcr distinguished lecture infographic

Date: Thursday, November 16, 2017
Time: 12 to 1 pm
Location: Freeman Auditorium, 930 Madison Avenue, 3rd Floor
Light Refreshments to be Served

Last Published: Oct 25, 2017