Bonnie Bassler


Bonnie Lynn Bassler (born 1962)[2] is an American molecular biologist; the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University; and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. She has researched cell-to-cell chemical communication in bacteria and discovered key insights into the mechanism by which bacteria communicate, known as quorum sensing. She has contributed to the idea that disruption of chemical signaling can be used as an antimicrobial therapy.[3][4][5]

Bonnie Bassler
Bassler at a 2015 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology meeting.
Bonnie Lynn Bassler

1962 (age 61–62)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Alma mater
Known forQuorum sensing
SpouseTodd Reichart
AwardsWiley Prize in Biomedical Science (2009)
Richard Lounsbery Award (2011)
Shaw Prize (2015)
Pearl Meister Greengard Prize (2016)
Wolf Prize in Chemistry (2022)
Foreign Member of the Royal Society[1]
Genetics Society of America Medal (2020)
Princess of Asturias Award (2023)
Scientific career
InstitutionsPrinceton University
External videos
video icon "Quorum sensing: Bacteria talks", Bonnie Bassler, TED2014
video icon Bonnie Bassler Biography, Explorer's Guide to Biology

Bassler has received numerous awards for her research, including the Princess of Asturias Award (2023), Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize (2021),[3] the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize (2016),[6] the L'Oreal-UNESCO award (2012),[7] the Richard Lounsbery Award (2011),[8] the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences (2009),[9] and a MacArthur Fellowship (2002).[10]

She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (as of 2006),[11] a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (as of 2012),[1] a former president of the American Society for Microbiology (2011)[12] and served on the National Science Board with a term expiring May 10, 2016.[13][14] She was an editor of the Annual Review of Genetics from 2012 to 2017.[15][16]

Early life and education


Bassler was born in Chicago and raised in Danville, California.[17] She began her career in science at 13 "as a veterinarian's assistant at the Miami Zoo and later at a local dog and cat clinic."[18]

Bassler entered the University of California, Davis as a major in veterinary sciences, but focused on genetics and biochemistry and received a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry. Bassler worked for UC Davis biochemistry and molecular medicine professor Frederic Troy, who assigned her to a bacteria research project. Within this project, Bassler characterized an enzyme in E. coli which cleaved sugars from various membrane glycoproteins. Bassler has stated that prokaryotes are "the perfect creatures to work on."[17] Bassler attended Johns Hopkins University and received a PhD in biochemistry in 1990.[19]

Her postdoctoral research was conducted at the Agouron Institute in La Jolla, California where she worked with Michael R. Silverman from 1990 to 1994.[17] Silverman was the first to discover quorum sensing, by studying the marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri. The glow-in-the-dark bacteria communicate chemically about their numbers and only give off light when a cohort is large enough to create an effective light source. Bassler determined further that bacteria are "multilingual" and use multiple chemical signal molecules to communicate with each other.[3]

Since then, Bassler has also shown that bacteria use quorum sensing to differentiate self and other, a trait previously thought to be limited to more highly evolved organisms. Bassler has shown that viruses and host cells (such as human cells) as well as bacteria, use quorum sensing, and that the virulence of pathogenic bacteria is in part a result of quorum sensing. Bassler has developed anti-quorum-sensing strategies that, in animal models, halt infection from bacterial pathogens of global significance.[3][4][20]

In 1994, Bassler joined the Princeton faculty. She is currently the chair of the department of molecular biology and the Squibb Professor in molecular biology.[21] Her lab at Princeton University researches quorum sensing, the process of cell-cell communication in bacteria.[22][23]

Bassler's exploration of the ways in which bacteria communicate and behave collectively can be seen as contributing to a paradigm shift in how scientists view the microbial world. Bassler's discoveries are said to "open new vistas in basic science, but are also of practical significance."[24] Bassler's research has contributed new and exciting strategies for treating bacterial disease.[25] In 2002, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Bassler a fellowship in recognition of her contributions to the bacterial lexicon.[10][26]


Vibrio harveyi

During her postdoctoral research, Bassler experimented with genetic manipulation of bioluminescent genes in V. harveyi bacteria and discovered that this bacteria had multiple molecules for quorum sensing. She found that these bacteria use quorum sensing to turn on and off a large number of genes in response to communications from other bacteria. These communications and responses allow bacteria of the same species and of different species to cooperate in a similar manner to multi-cellular organisms. She extended this research in series of experiments leading to the discovery that boron binding is used as a co-factor in communication. Boron is found in abundance in the oceans where V. harveyi is found.[17]

Bassler's lab focuses on intra- and inter-species communication, self versus non-self recognition, information transferring, and population level cooperation. Research topics include: How bacteria distinguish self from other: ligand-receptor interactions, Dynamics: small RNA regulation of quorum sensing, Biofilms under flow and the public goods dilemma, Manipulation of quorum sensing on demand, and microbiome quorum sensing and inter-kingdom communication.[22]

Awards and honors


Selected works

  • Ng, Wai-Leung; Bassler, Bonnie L. (December 1, 2009). "Bacterial Quorum-Sensing Network Architectures". Annual Review of Genetics. 43 (1): 197–222. doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-102108-134304. ISSN 0066-4197. PMC 4313539. PMID 19686078.
  • Bassler, Bonnie L.; Losick, Richard (April 2006). "Bacterially Speaking". Cell. 125 (2): 237–246. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2006.04.001. ISSN 0092-8674. PMID 16630813. S2CID 17056045.
  • Camilli, Andrew; Bassler, Bonnie L. (February 24, 2006). "Bacterial Small-Molecule Signaling Pathways". Science. 311 (5764): 1113–1116. Bibcode:2006Sci...311.1113C. doi:10.1126/science.1121357. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 2776824. PMID 16497924.
  • Waters, Christopher M.; Bassler, Bonnie L. (November 1, 2005). "Quorum sensing: Cell-to-Cell Communication in Bacteria". Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. 21 (1): 319–346. doi:10.1146/annurev.cellbio.21.012704.131001. ISSN 1081-0706. PMID 16212498.
  • Lenz, Derrick H.; Mok, Kenny C.; Lilley, Brendan N.; Kulkarni, Rahul V.; Wingreen, Ned S.; Bassler, Bonnie L. (July 9, 2004). "The Small RNA Chaperone Hfq and Multiple Small RNAs Control Quorum Sensing in Vibrio harveyi and Vibrio cholerae". Cell. 118 (1): 69–82. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2004.06.009. ISSN 0092-8674. PMID 15242645. S2CID 18997499.
  • Chen, Xin; Schauder, Stephan; Potier, Noelle; Van Dorsselaer, Alain; Pelczer, István; Bassler, Bonnie L.; Hughson, Frederick M. (January 2002). "Structural identification of a bacterial quorum-sensing signal containing boron". Nature. 415 (6871): 545–549. doi:10.1038/415545a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 11823863. S2CID 4334017.
  • Miller, Melissa B.; Bassler, Bonnie L. (October 1, 2001). "Quorum Sensing in Bacteria". Annual Review of Microbiology. 55 (1): 165–199. doi:10.1146/annurev.micro.55.1.165. ISSN 0066-4227. PMID 11544353.
  • Schauder, Stephan; Shokat, Kevan; Surette, Michael G.; Bassler, Bonnie L. (December 21, 2001). "The LuxS family of bacterial autoinducers: biosynthesis of a novel quorum-sensing signal molecule". Molecular Microbiology. 41 (2): 463–476. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2958.2001.02532.x. ISSN 0950-382X. PMID 11489131. S2CID 24852124.
  • Surette, Michael G.; Miller, Melissa B.; Bassler, Bonnie L. (February 16, 1999). "Quorum sensing in Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, and Vibrio harveyi: A new family of genes responsible for autoinducer production". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96 (4): 1639–1644. Bibcode:1999PNAS...96.1639S. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.4.1639. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 15544. PMID 9990077.
  • Bassler, Bonnie L (December 1999). "How bacteria talk to each other: regulation of gene expression by quorum sensing". Current Opinion in Microbiology. 2 (6): 582–587. doi:10.1016/s1369-5274(99)00025-9. ISSN 1369-5274. PMID 10607620.
  • Bassler, Bonnie L.; Wright, Miriam; Silverman, Michael R. (July 1994). "Multiple signalling systems controlling expression of luminescence in Vibrio harveyi : sequence and function of genes encoding a second sensory pathway". Molecular Microbiology. 13 (2): 273–286. doi:10.1111/J.1365-2958.1994.Tb00422.X. PMID 7984107. S2CID 39587138.
  • Bassler, Bonnie L.; Wright, Miriam; Showalter, Richard E.; Silverman, Michael R. (August 1993). "Intercellular signalling in Vibrio harveyi: sequence and function of genes regulating expression of luminescence". Molecular Microbiology. 9 (4): 773–786. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.1993.tb01737.x. ISSN 0950-382X. PMID 8231809. S2CID 36357210.


  1. ^ a b Staff. "Professor Bonnie L. Bassler ForMemRS". The Royal Society. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Michael Silverman and Bonnie Bassler win 2021 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize". EurekAlert!. January 27, 2021. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Bonnie L. Bassler, Ph.D." Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  5. ^ "Bonnie L. Bassler". Princeton University. March 11, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Bassler awarded Pearl Meister Greengard Prize". Princeton University. November 17, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  7. ^ a b "UN and L'Oreal announce winners of women in science award". United Nations News. November 8, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "Richard Lounsbery Award". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Eighth Annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences Awarded to Dr. Bonnie Bassler of Princeton University".
  10. ^ a b c "Bonnie Bassler Molecular Biologist, Class of 2002". MacArthur Foundation. 2002.
  11. ^ "Bonnie L. Bassler". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Bonnie Bassler; PhD". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  13. ^ "Obama to nominate Princeton's Bassler for National Science Board". Princeton University. October 21, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  14. ^ "Daily Digest". Congressional Record. 158 (61). April 26, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  15. ^ "CO-EDITORS OF THE ANNUAL REVIEW OF GENETICS – VOLUME 46, 2012". Annual Reviews. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  16. ^ "EDITOR OF THE ANNUAL REVIEW OF GENETICS – VOLUME 51, 2017". Annual Reviews. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  17. ^ a b c d e Ahmed, Farooq (April 1, 2008). "Profile of Bonnie L. Bassler". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 105 (13): 4969–4971. Bibcode:2008PNAS..105.4969A. doi:10.1073/pnas.0705870105. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 2278219. PMID 18362352.
  18. ^ "Autobiography of Bonnie L Bassler". The Shaw Prize. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  19. ^ "L'Oreal-UNESCO Names Professor Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University, For Women in Science 2012 Laureate for North America". Princeton, New Jersey Patch. April 13, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  20. ^ Schauder, S.; Bassler, B. L. (2001). "The languages of bacteria". Genes & Development. 15 (12): 1468–80. doi:10.1101/gad.899601. PMID 11410527.
  21. ^ "Bonnie Bassler". Broad Institute. March 20, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Bassler Lab Research". Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  23. ^ Hmelo, Laura R. (January 3, 2017). "Quorum Sensing in Marine Microbial Environments". Annual Review of Marine Science. 9 (1): 257–281. Bibcode:2017ARMS....9..257H. doi:10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060656. ISSN 1941-1405. PMID 27814032.
  24. ^ a b "Bonnie Bassler receives Gruber Genetics Prize". Princeton University. February 7, 2020. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  25. ^ "Bassler receives Gruber Genetics Prize for discoveries on how bacteria communicate". Princeton University. February 7, 2020. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  26. ^ Marks, Marilyn (September 25, 2002). "Biologist Bonnie Bassler receives MacArthur Fellowship". Princeton University News.
  27. ^ "Elected Fellows". AAAS – The World's Largest General Scientific Society. October 21, 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  28. ^ "Special Recognitions 2008". World Cultural Council. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  29. ^ "Wiley Foundation Past winners".
  30. ^ "The Nifty Fifty (times 2)". USA Science and Engineering Festival. 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  31. ^ "National Science Board". National Science Board. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  32. ^ "Bassler Wins L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Award in Life Sciences". National Academy of Sciences. November 8, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  33. ^ "The 14th Annual L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science Honor Five Exceptional Women Who Move Science Forward". L'Oréal USA. November 8, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  34. ^ Kelly, Morgan (November 8, 2011). "FACULTY AWARD: Bassler to receive L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award". Princeton University. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  35. ^ "Members | American Philosophical Society". Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  36. ^ "Princeton's Dr Bonnie Bassler Receives 2014 Alice C. Evans Award". Genomics Research from Technology Networks. May 22, 2014. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  37. ^ "The 2015 Prize in Life Science & Medicine Bonnie L. Bassler E. Peter Greenberg". The Shaw Prize. 2015. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  38. ^ "FASEB 2016 Excellence in Science Award recipient announced". EurekAlert!. July 1, 2015. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  39. ^ "AAAS Fellow Bonnie Bassler wins 2016 Max Planck Research Award". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  40. ^ "National Academy of Medicine Elects 80 New Members – National Academy of Medicine". National Academy of Medicine. October 17, 2016. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  41. ^ Webteam, University of Pittsburgh. "2018 Dickson Prize Winner". Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  42. ^ "Ernst Schering Prize 2018 goes to Bonnie L. Bassler". Schering Stiftung. 2018. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  43. ^ "People in the News 2018". The Vallee Foundation. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  44. ^ "Congratulations to the recipients of the 2020 GSA Awards!". Genetics Society of America. January 29, 2020. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  45. ^ Mrusek, Marco (January 27, 2021). "Mikrobiologen mit Paul Ehrlich- und Ludwig Darmstaedter-Preis geehrt". (in German). Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  46. ^ Wolf Prize in Chemistry 2022
  47. ^ [1]
  48. ^ Canada Gairdner International Award 2023
  49. ^ Princess of Asturias Awards 2023
  50. ^ Albany Medical Center Prize 2023
  • A Biologist's Listening Guide to Bacteria - All Things Considered interview
  • Nova Science Now Profile: Bonnie Bassler
  • Bonnie Bassler at TED  
    • TED Talk: How bacteria "talk" (TED2009)
  • Bonnie Bassler Seminar: Cell-Cell Communication
  • Bonnie Bassler Online Talk: Tiny Conspiracies