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Faculty Image D. Scott Samuels
Office: CHARLES H. CLAPP 207
Phone: (406) 243-6145


Current Position:


Office Hours:

By appointment.

Field Of Study:

Molecular borreliology

Research Interests:

Research in our laboratory focuses on the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease. The enzootic life cycle of B. burgdorferi involves a tick vector and a mammalian host: different sets of genes are expressed in these diverse environments. We are primarily interested in the molecular mechanisms by which the spirochete senses that its tick vector is feeding on a vertebrate host and subsequently regulates its gene expression to effect transmission.

We dissect the role of alternative sigma factors and other DNA-binding proteins as well as small RNAs, RNA chaperones and ribonucleases in the regulation of transcription. We also study the cellular mechanisms required for persistence of B. burgdorferi in its tick vector. In addition, we are interested in the molecular physiology of the spirochete because of its unusual bacterial genome, in particular the biogenesis of its ribosomal RNAs and the replication of its linear DNA molecules. Furthermore, we have been involved in developing molecular genetic tools to address these research questions, including a system to artificially regulate gene expression in B. burgdorferi in an enzootic cycle model.


BIOB 260 Cellular and Molecular Biology

BCH 110 Intro Biology for Biochemists


Running, hiking, backpacking, bicycling, and skiing.


B.A. Colorado College, 1983

Ph.D. University of Arizona, 1991

Selected Publications:

Knight, S.W. and Samuels, D.S. (1999) Natural synthesis of a DNA-binding protein from the C-terminal domain of DNA gyrase A in Borrelia burgdorferi. EMBO J. 18:4875-4881.

Eggers, C.H., Kimmel, B.J., Bono, J.L., Elias, A., Rosa, P., and Samuels, D.S. (2001) Transduction by øBB-1, a bacteriophage of Borrelia burgdorferi. J. Bacteriol. 183:4771-4778.

Alverson, J., Bundle, S.F., Sohaskey, C.D., Lybecker, M.C., and Samuels, D.S. (2003) Transcriptional regulation of the ospAB and ospC promoters from Borrelia burgdorferi. Mol. Microbiol. 48:1665-1677.

Galbraith, K.M., Ng, A.C., Eggers, B.J., Kuchel, C.R., Eggers, C.H., and Samuels, D.S. (2005) parC mutations in fluoroquinolone-resistant Borrelia burgdorferi. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 49: 4354-4357.

Gilbert, M.A., Morton, E.A., Bundle, S.F., and Samuels, D.S. (2007) Artificial regulation of ospC expression in Borrelia burgdorferi. Mol. Microbiol. 63: 1259-1273.

Lybecker, M.C., Abel, C.A., Feig, A.L., and Samuels, D.S. (2010) Identification and function of the RNA chaperone Hfq in the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Mol. Microbiol. 78: 622-635.

Hoon-Hanks, L.L., Morton, E.A., Lybecker, M.C., Battisti, J.M., Samuels, D.S., and Drecktrah, D. (2012) Borrelia burgdorferi malQ mutants utilize disaccharides and traverse the enzootic cycle. FEMS Immunol. Med. Microbiol. 66: 157-165.

Drecktrah, D., Hall, L.S., Hoon-Hanks, L.L., and Samuels, D.S. (2013) An inverted repeat in the ospC operator is required for induction in Borrelia burgdorferi. PLOS ONE 8: e68799.

Other Publications:

Book chapters, commentary, and reviews:

Samuels, D.S. (1995) Electrotransformation of the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, Chapter 25. In: Nickoloff, J.A. (ed.) Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 47: Electroporation Protocols for Microorganisms, pp. 253-259. Humana Press, Totowa NJ.

Eggers, C.H., Casjens, S., Hayes, S.F., Garon, C.F., Damman, C.J., Oliver, D.B., and Samuels, D.S. (2000) Bacteriophages of spirochetes. J. Mol. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 2: 365-373.

Eggers, C.H., Casjens, S. and Samuels, D.S. (2001) Bacteriophages of Borrelia burgdorferi and other spirochetes, Chapter 4. In: Saier, Jr., M.H. and García-Lara, J. (eds.) The Spirochetes: Molecular and Cellular Biology, pp. 35-44. Horizon Scientific Press, Wymondham, United Kingdom.

Samuels, D.S. (2006) Antibiotic resistance in Borrelia burgdorferi: applications for genetic manipulation and implications for evolution. In: Cabello, F.C., Hulinska, D., and Godfrey, H.P. (eds.) Molecular Biology of Spirochetes, pp. 56-70. IOS Press, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Samuels, D.S. and Radolf, J.D. (2009) Who is the BosR around here anyway? Mol. Microbiol. 74: 1295-1299.

Skare, J.T., Carroll, J.A., Yang, X.F., Samuels, D.S., and Akins, D.R. (2010) Gene regulation, transcriptomics, and proteomics. In: Samuels, D.S. and Radolf, J.D. (eds.) Borrelia: Molecular Biology, Host Interaction and Pathogenesis, pp. 67-101. Caister Academic Press, Norfolk, England.

Rosa, P.A., Cabello, F., and Samuels, D.S. (2010) Genetic manipulation of Borrelia burgdorferi. In: Samuels, D.S. and Radolf, J.D. (eds.) Borrelia: Molecular Biology, Host Interaction and Pathogenesis, pp. 189-219. Caister Academic Press, Norfolk, England.  

Samuels, D.S. (2011) Gene regulation in Borrelia burgdorferi. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 65: 479-499.

Brisson, D., Drecktrah, D., Eggers, C.H., and Samuels, D.S. (2012) Genetics of Borrelia burgdorferi. Annu. Rev. Genet. 46: 513-534.


Samuels, D.S. and Radolf, J.D., eds. (2010) Borrelia: Molecular Biology, Host Interaction and Pathogenesis. Caister Academic Press, Norfolk, England.

Full list of publications via NCBI.

Publications via Web of Knowledge

Publications via Google Scholar.

Brownian motion (it is a long story):

Pearle, P., Collett, B., Bart, K., Bilderback, D., Newman, D., and Samuels, S. (2010) What Brown saw and you can too. Am. J. Phys. 78: 1278-1289.