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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Faculty & Research

Faculty Profile

Irene Garcia Newton

Photo of Irene Garcia Newton
Research Images
Research photo by Irene Garcia Newton

Wolbachia (stained with anti-Hsp60) found within the germarium and developing oocyte of Drosophila melanogaster (actin stained with Phalloidin).

Research photo by Irene Garcia Newton

Wolbachia (visualized using FISH probe EUB338) within multiple germaria of Drosophila melanogaster.  Note the localization to the developing oocyte in early stages of oogenesis.

Assistant Professor of Biology
Contact Information
By telephone: 812-855-3883
By fax: 812-855-6705
JH 221C

Newton lab website

Research Areas
  • Evolution
  • Genomics and Bioinformatics
  • Microbial Cell Biology and Environmental Responses
  • Microbial Interactions and Pathogenesis

Ph.D., Harvard University, 2008
Postdoctoral Fellow, Tufts University, 2008-2010 


Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellow

Research Description

The Newton Laboratory is broadly interested in host-associated microbes.  We study who those microbes are, what those microbes are doing , how they persist and infect and what the consequences are to their genomic evolution.  Projects in the laboratory range from highly mechanistic and cell biological to ecological and bioinformatic.

Molecular Mechanisms of Pathogenesis and Mutualism:  How do endosymbionts invade and persist in host lineages? Do the molecular tools they use resemble those of pathogens? Our laboratory studies how one extremely successful parasite, Wolbachia pipientis, invades and manipulates host cells.  One exciting project we're working on focuses on Wolbachia's reliance on host actin regulatory proteins for maternal transmission.  We are using Drosophila mutants that bottleneck a Wolbachia infection to select for bacterial suppressors of the host phenotype.  Check out our recent publications on this in AEM and PLoS Pathogens.

Metabolic Function in the Microbiome: The honey bee gut is home to varied and diverse bacterial species.  We study the functional meaning of this diversity with regards to metabolism, ecological interactions between community members, and ultimately, host health.  Check out our most recent publication in Environmental Microbiology, by graduate student Freddy Lee.

Exploring How Host Genetics, Society and Development Interact to Form the Microbiome: Where do host-specific bacteria come from? How is an organism colonized during development? Does its sociological context or genetic background alter microbiome composition? We investigate these questions in the context of the honey bee.

Evolutionary Genomics: Host association can have dramatic effects on bacterial evolution.  We are interested in the genomic changes that occur when bacterial lineages associate with  hosts.  These changes include pseudogenization, gene loss, gene duplications, and rearrangements.  We've thought about this in the context of intracellularity and most recently, we've been thinking about Wolbachia, Yersinia, and Rhizobia.

Bioinformatics: The laboratory is interested in methods and tool development for the study of genomes, genes, and their evolution. See our most recent publication in PeerJ.

Select Publications
KB Sheehan, M Martin, CF Lesser, R.R. Isberg and I.L.G. Newton. 2016. Identification and characterization of candidate Wolbachia pipientis type IV effectors reveals interactions with the cytoskeleton. mBio e00622-16  [article]
Neal Whitaker, Trista M Berry, Nathan Rosenthal, Jay E Gordon, Christian Gonzalez-Rivera, Kathy B Sheehan, Hilary K Truchan, Lauren VieBrock, Irene LG Newton, Jason A Carlyon, Peter J Christie.  2016. Chimeric Coupling Proteins Mediate Transfer of Heterologous Type IV Effectors through the Escherichia coli pKM101-encoded Conjugation Machine. J. Bac 00378-16  [article]

Newton, ILG, M.E. Clark, B. Kent, S.R. Bordenstein, and J.H. Werren. 2016. Comparative genomics of two closely related Wolbachia with different reproductive effects on hosts. Genome Biology and Evolution 8:1526-1542  [article]

Newton, I.L.G. and K.B. Sheehan. 2015. Passage of Wolbachia through mutant Drosophila melanogaster induces phenotypic and genomic changes. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 81 (3): 1032-1037
Newton ILG, Savytskyy O, Sheehan KB (2015) Wolbachia Utilize Host Actin for Efficient Maternal Transmission in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS Pathogens 11(4): e1004798. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004798  [article]
Tarpy D.R., H.R. Mattila, and ILG Newton. 2015. Development of the honey bee microbiome throughout the queen-rearing process.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 81 (9): 3182-3191
Lee FJ, Rusch D, Stewart FJ, Mattila HR, Newton ILG. 2014. Saccharide breakdown and fermentation by the honey bee gut microbiome. Environmental Microbiology. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.12526  [article]

View more publications »

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