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Timothy Miyashiro

Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Timothy Miyashiro

About Me

Dr. Miyashiro joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department at Penn State in 2013.  His laboratory studies the squid-vibrio symbiosis to increase understanding of the mechanisms by which bacteria establish symbiosis with animals.  He trained as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Edward G. Ruby’s laboratory at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He earned his Ph.D. in Physics in Dr. Mark Goulian’s laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania.  He earned his B.S. in Physics at the University of Delaware.


Department or University Committees

  • Graduate Program Steering Committee

  • Graduate Student Recruiting Committee

  • Microbiome Center Executive Committee


Program or Departmental Affiliations

BMMB Graduate Program Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Biosciences Program



Microbiome Center Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics


Research Interest

Understanding of the mechanisms by which bacteria establish symbiosis


Research Summary

All animals, including humans, have evolved in a microbial world, and their physiology depends on intimate associations, i.e., symbioses, with bacteria.  We call these bacteria 'symbionts', and remarkably, many of these symbionts are acquired from the environment.  The Miyashiro lab is seeking to increase understanding of the mechanisms by which bacteria establish symbiosis.  We use approaches based on microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology to explore these mechanisms in the context of a natural animal-microbe symbiosis comprised of a Hawaiian squid (Euprymna scolopes) and a bioluminescent bacterium (Vibrio fischeri).


Teaching and Mentoring

Microbes have had profound effects on Earth's history and the evolution of higher organisms, including humans.  I teach three microbiology courses:

  1. MICRB 201: Introductory Microbiology

  2. MICRB 203: Introductory Microbiology Lab (Inquiry-based)

  3. BMB 488-006: Community of Practice in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Host-Microbe Interactions


Honors and Awards


Daniel P. Tershak Memorial Teaching Award, for excellence in teaching, Penn State University

2019 - 2020

Beckman Scholar Faculty Mentor, for undergraduate student Taylor Yount

2017 - 2020

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Gilliam Faculty Mentor, for BMMB graduate student Ericka D. Surrett

2011 - 2016

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pathways to Independence Career Transition Award (K99/R00)

2008 - 2011

NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral National Research Service Award (F32)

2005 - 2007

American Heart Association Pre-doctoral Fellowship


Werner B. Teutsch Prize, awarded annually to the graduate student who, by his or her performance in the first-year courses, shows the most promise for outstanding achievement in research, University of Pennsylvania


Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, University of Delaware


Elected to National Society of Collegiate Scholars, University of Delaware


Selected Publications

List of Peer-Reviewed Publications (18 total; = undergraduate student):

  • Guckes KR, Cecere AG, Wasilko NP, Williams AL, Bultman KM, Mandel MJ, and Miyashiro T. (2019) Incompatibility of Vibrio fischeri strains during symbiosis establishment depends on two hcp genes.  Journal of Bacteriology 201:e00221-19.

  • Bultman KM, Cecere AG, Miyashiro T, Septer AN, and Mandel MJ. (2019) Draft genome sequences of type VI secretion system-encoding Vibrio fischeri strains FQ-A001 and ES401.  Microbiology Resource Announcements 8:e00385-19.

  • Wasilko NP, Larios-Valencia J, Steingard CH, Nunez B, Verma SC, and Miyashiro T. (2018) Sulfur availability for Vibrio fischeri growth during symbiosis establishment depends on biogeography within the squid light organ. Molecular Microbiology 111:621-36.

  • Speare L, Cecere AG, Guckes KR, Wollenberg M, Mandel MJ, Miyashiro T*, and Septer AN. (2018) Bacterial symbionts use a type VI secretion system to eliminate competitors in their natural host.  Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences of the United States of America 115:E8528-37.

    * = co-corresponding author

  • Verma SC and Miyashiro T. (2016) Niche-specific impact of a symbiotic function on the persistence of microbial symbionts within a natural host.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology 82:5990-6.

  • Sun Y, LaSota ED, Cecere AG, LaPenna KB, Larios-Valencia J, Wollenberg MS, and Miyashiro T. (2016) Intraspecific competition impacts Vibrio fischeri strain diversity during initial colonization of the squid light organ.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology 82:3082-91.

  • Sun Y, Verma SC, Bogale H, and Miyashiro T. (2015) NagC represses N-acetyl-glucosamine utilization genes in Vibrio fischeri within the light organ of Euprymna scolopesFrontiers in Microbiology 6:741.

  • Miyashiro T, Oehlert D, Ray VA, Visick KL, and Ruby EG. (2014) The putative oligosaccharide translocase SypK connects biofilm formation with quorum signaling in Vibrio fischeri. MicrobiologyOpen 3:836-48.

  • Koch EJ, Miyashiro T, McFall-Ngai MJ, and Ruby EG. (2014) Features governing symbiont persistence in the squid-vibrio association. Molecular Ecology 23:1624-34.

  • Verma SC and Miyashiro T. (2013) Quorum sensing in the squid-Vibrio symbiosis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 14:16386-401.

  • Sun Y, Bernardy EE, Hammer BK, and Miyashiro T. (2013) Competence and natural transformation in vibrios. Molecular Microbiology 89: 583-95.

  • Miyashiro T and Ruby EG. (2012). Shedding light on bioluminescence regulation in Vibrio fischeri. Molecular Microbiology 84: 795-806.

  • Cao X, Studer S, Wasserman KM, Zhang Y, Ruby EG, and Miyashiro T. (2012) The novel sigma factor-like regulator RpoQ controls luminescence, chitinase activity and motility in Vibrio fischeri. mBio 3: e00285-11.

  • Miyashiro T, Klein W, Oehlert D, Cao X, Schwartzman J, and Ruby EG. (2011) The N-acetyl-D-glucosamine repressor NagC of Vibrio fischeri facilitates colonization of Euprymna scolopes. Molecular Microbiology 82: 894-903.

  • Miyashiro T, Wollenberg MS, Cao X, Oehlert D, and Ruby EG. (2010) A single qrr gene is necessary and sufficient for LuxO-mediated regulation in Vibrio fischeri. Molecular Microbiology 77: 1556-67.

  • Miyashiro T and Goulian M. (2008) High stimulus unmasks positive feedback in an autoregulated bacterial signaling circuit. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences of the United States of America 105: 17457-62.

  • Liu Z, Miyashiro T, Tsou A, Hsiao A, Goulian M, and Zhu J. (2008) Mucosal penetration primes Vibrio cholerae for host colonization by repressing quorum sensing. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences of the United States of America 105: 9769-74.

  • Miyashiro T and Goulian M. (2007) Stimulus-dependent differential regulation in the Escherichia coli PhoQ-PhoP system. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences of the United States of America 104: 16305-10.