The Moreno Lab focuses on the emergence and evolution of bacterial pathogens. Our major research interests include elucidating the molecular strategies that bacterial pathogens develop for host colonization, virulence regulation and dispersal from the host. Furthermore, we are interested in the connection that ecosystems and manmade environmental perturbations (e.g. climate change, pollution) have in their pathogenic potential and transmission.

Our research program focuses on several pathogenic members of the Vibrionaceae, a family of aquatic bacteria, as model systems. Our investigations have an emphasis on the intestinal pathogen Vibrio cholerae, which represents a paradigm of infectious disease agents, and Vibrio vulnificus, a poorly understood emergent zoonotic pathogen source of a fulminant septicemia.

Our research approach strives to be holistic and multidisciplinary; what we call “From Bays to Bases”. It encompasses a mix of molecular biology, genomics, phylogenetics, pathogenesis, and ecology. We believe that by understanding pathogen evolution and ecology, we will ultimately gain the knowledge that will allow us to forecast the traits of emergent virulent strains, predict the sources of outbreaks, and to design reliable therapeutic treatments against bacterial threats.

Research in The Moreno Lab has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration or the Binational Science Foundation. Dr. Almagro-Moreno has been recipient of numerous awards and honors including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease.

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Selected publications of The Moreno Lab

1. Almagro-Moreno S (2022) How bacterial pathogens emerge. Can scientists predict where disease-causing microbes will arise before they cause the next pandemic? American Scientist. Cover image of the issue

2. Balasubramanian D, Grant TA, López-Pérez M, Ogbunugafor CB, Almagro-Moreno S (2022) Molecular mechanisms and drivers of pathogen emergence. Trends in Microbiology doi:10.1016/j.tim.2022.02.003 Cover image of the issue

3. López-Pérez M, Jayakumar JM, Grant TA, Zaragoza-Solas A, Cabello-Yeves PJ, Almagro-Moreno S (2021) Ecological diversification reveals routes of pathogen emergence in endemic Vibrio vulnificus populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118:e2103470118

4. López-Pérez M, Jayakumar JM, Haro-Moreno JM, Zaragoza-Solas A, Reddi G, Rodriguez-Valera F, Shapiro OH, Alam M, Almagro-Moreno S (2019) Genomic divergence and cluster evolution of the emergent marine pathogen Vibrio vulnificus: From genotype to ecotype. mBio 10:e02852-18

5. Shapiro BJ, Levade I, Kovacikova GK, Taylor RK, Almagro-Moreno S (2017) Origins of pandemic Vibrio cholerae from environmental gene pools. Nature Microbiology 2:16240

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