How do bacteria adapt?

We use model systems to examine the interplay of the host and bacterial colonizer.

The Gram-positive bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Strep, GAS) and Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Strep, GBS) can cause invasive infections but are also able to colonize the host asymptomatically. The Cook lab focuses on determining the mechanisms behind how GAS and GBS colonize host mucosal surfaces.

Projects in the Cook lab involve examining the host factors that serve as signals to colonizing bacteria, the bacterial transcriptional changes elicited by these signals, and the phenotypic effects of these transcriptional alterations. We use systems such as cell culture and mouse models of carriage and infection in addition to molecular and "-omics" approaches to examine interplay between the host and bacteria.

Postdoc and graduate student opportunities available. Contact us for more information.

Laura C. Cook, PhD

Principle Investigator

I have been an Assistant Professor at Binghamton University since the Fall of 2018. I began my research career as an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Patrick Schlievert at the University of Minnesota studying toxin production in the Gram-positive pathogens Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Bacillus anthracis. I then joined the lab of Dr. Gary Dunny and began working on my PhD dissertation research studying conjugation and biofilm formation in the human pathogen Enterococcus faecalis. My postdoctoral studies took place at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the lab of Dr. Michael Federle. While there, I focused on quorum sensing in streptococci and the role of cell-cell signaling in colonization of the host. It was there that I began using animal models of bacterial colonization. Using a mouse model of vaginal colonization, I developed projects looking at the transcriptome of GAS and GBS during vaginal carriage using RNASeq. These projects developed into the work that is currently done in my lab.

When I’m not in the lab I enjoy playing with my cats, reading, and traveling with my husband and 2-year-old daughter.

Lamar Thomas

PhD Student (2018-present)

“Everything is Science - Science is Everything” - Lamar Thomas

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a scientist. I believe this was shaped primarily by my environment. My first passion was with nature, with life and its elements. As an island girl, it is almost mandatory that you intertwine with nature, loving and respecting all entities of life in our community. This love and my exploratory instincts brought me to science and inevitably to Binghamton University.

I am a first-year student in the PhD program at Binghamton University in the department of Biological Sciences. Prior to coming to Binghamton I worked primarily in the field of plant pathology and entomology with focus on viruses and fungi epidemiology. Here at Binghamton, my research focuses on bacteria of medical importance, specifically, Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) colonization in maternal women. My research aims to characterize one of the most highly upregulated GBS gene and protein during vaginal colonization. It gives me great pleasure to be a part of the Binghamton biofilm research center, the research being conducted here are paramount to improving the life of people affected by bacterial diseases.

My only goal is to become a woman of value. And I strongly believe that this value is through groundbreaking, innovative research. Ultimately, I wish to be an entrepreneur in science research. Apart from being engulfed in everything science, I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, running and football. And a good Stephen King book settles the mind during the rough winters.

Undergraduate Students

Lindsay Thomas (Class of 2021)

I am a senior at Binghamton University working in Laura's lab. I am a biology major and am hoping to attend veterinary school after I graduate. In my free time, I enjoy dancing, spending time with friends, watching movies, and playing with my two dogs Snoopy and Woodstock.

Nicole Remes (class of 2022)

I am an Integrative Neuroscience major on the pre-veterinary track. I began my research experience under Dr. Caitlin Light, studying the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa outer membrane vesicles. In Spring 2020 I was lucky to join Dr. Laura Cook’s lab studying the colonization behavior of Streptococcus pyogenes. Outside of the lab, I spend my free time baking, reading, hiking, and running with my dog Benny.

Jordan Thesier (class of 2022)

I am a junior at Binghamton University. I am majoring in biology and hope to work in the bioinformatics field when I am done with school. I was previously a part of the First Year Research Program at Binghamton, where I studied Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms and outer membrane vesicles. In my free time I like to draw and paint, and I have been dancing for 17 years.

Previous Undergraduate Students

Publications – Laura Cook

  1. Chatterjee, N., Cook, L.C., Van Mouwerik Lyles, K., Nguyen, H.A.T, Devlin, D., Thomas, L.S., and Z. Eichenbaum. 2020. A novel heme transporter from the ECF family is vital for the Group A Streptococcus colonization and infections. J. Bac. Accepted 5/2020.
  2. Cook, L.C.*, Chatterjee, N., Federle, M.J., and Z. Eichenbaum. 2019. Transcriptomic analysis of Streptococcus pyogenes colonizing the vaginal mucosa identifies hupY, an MtsR-regulated adhesin involved in heme utilization. mBio. 10(3): e00848-19.
    * First and corresponding author
  3. Cook, L.C., Hu, H., Maienschein-Cline, M., and M.J. Federle. 2018. A vaginal tract signal detected by the GBS SaeRS system enhances murine colonization and elicits transcriptomic changes. Infect Immun. 57(4). doi: 10.1128/IAI.00762-17
  4. Cook, L.C.*, LaSarre, B.*, and M.J. Federle. 2013. Interspecies communication among commensal and pathogenic streptococci. mBio. 4(4):e00382-13.
  5. Buhrman, J.S., Cook, L.C., Rayahin, J.E., Federle, M.J., and R.A. Gemeinhart. 2013. Active, soluble recombinant melittin purified by extracting insoluble lysate of Escherichia coli without dentaturation. Biotechnology Progress. 29(5): 1150-1157.
  6. Buhrman, J.S., Cook, L.C., Rayahin, J.E., Federle, M.J., and R.A. Gemeinhart. 2013. Proteolytically activated anti-bacterial hydrogel microspheres. Journal of Controlled Release. 171(3): 288-295.
  7. Chatterjee, A.*, Cook, L.C.*, Shu, C-C., Doraiswami, R., Dunny, G.M., and W-S. Hu. 2013. Antagonistic self-sensing and mate-sensing signaling controls antibiotic-resistance transfer. Proc Nat Acad Sci. 110(17): 7086-7090.
  8. Cook, L.C. and G.M. Dunny. 2013. Effects of biofilm growth on plasmid copy number and expression of antibiotic resistance genes in Enterococcus faecalis. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 57(4): 1850-1856.
  9. Cook, L.C., Chatterjee, A., Barnes, A.M., Yarwood, J.M., Hu, W-S. and G.M. Dunny. 2011. Biofilm growth alters regulation of conjugation by a bacterial pheromone. Mol Microbiol. 81(6):1499-510.
  10. Schlievert, P.M., Chuang-Smith, O.N. Peterson, M.L., Cook, L.C., and G.M. Dunny. 2010. Enterococcus faecalis endocarditis severity in IgG Fabs interfering with aggregation substance. PLOS One. 5(10).
  11. Strandberg, K.L., Peterson, M.L., Schaefers, M.M., Case, L.C., Pack, M.C., Chase, D.J., and P.M. Schlievert. 2009. Reduction in Staphylococcus aureus growth and exotoxin production and in vaginal interleukin 8 levels due to glycerol monolaurate in tampons. Clin Infect Dis. 49(11): 1711-17.
  12. Schlievert, P.M., Case, L.C., Strandberg, K.L., Novartis, and D.Y. Leung. 2008. Superantigen Profile of Staphylococcus aureus Isolates from patients with steroid-resistant atopic dermatitis. Clin Infect Dis. 46(10): 1562-1567.
  13. Schlievert, P.M., Case, L.C., Strandberg, K.L., Tripp, T.J., Lin, Y. and M.L. Peterson. 2007. Vaginal Staphylococcus aureus superantigen profile shift from 1980-81 to 2003-05. J Clin Microbiol. 45(8): 2704-2707.
  14. Schlievert, P.M., Case, L.C., Nemeth, K.A., Davis, C.C., Sun, Y., Qin, W., Wang, F., Brosnahan, A.J., Mleziva, J.A., Peterson, M.L., and B.E. Jones. 2007. Alpha and beta chains of Hemoglobin inhibit production of Staphylococcus aureus exotoxins. Biochemistry. 46(50):14349-14358.
  15. Pragman, A.A., Herron-Olson, L., Case, L.C., Kapur, V., and P.M. Schlievert. 2007. Sequence analysis of the Staphylococcus aureus srrAB locus reveals a highly conserved sequence. J Bacteriol. 189(20): 7515-7519.
  16. * These authors contributed equally

Review Articles

  1. Thomas, L., and L.C. Cook. 2020. Minireview: Two-component signal transduction systems in the human pathogen, Streptococcus agalactiae. Infect Immun. DOI: 10.1128/IAI.00931-19
  2. Salgado-Pabon, W., Cook, L.C. (listed as Case-Cook, L.C.), and P.M. Schlievert. 2014. Molecular Analysis of Staphylococcal Superantigens. Methods Mol Biol. 1085: 169-185.
  3. Cook, L.C. and G.M. Dunny. 2014. The influence of biofilms in the biology of plasmids. Microbiol Spectrum: 2(4): PLAS-0012-2013.
    Also in: Plasmids: Biology and Impact in Biotechnology and Discovery. 2015. ASM Press.
  4. Cook, L.C. and M.J. Federle. 2013. Peptide pheromone signaling in Streptococcus and Enterococcus. FEMS Microbiology Reviews. 38(3):473-92.
  5. Schlievert, P.M. and L.C. Case. 2007. Molecular analysis of staphylococcal superantigens. Book Chapter. Methods in Molecular Biology: MRSA Protocols. Humana Press Inc.
    Also in: Methods Mol Biol. 2007; 391:113-2