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Karen M. Ottemann

Karen M. Ottemann



831-459-3482 (Office)

831-459-4780 (Lab)

831-459-3524 Fax

Physical & Biological Sciences

  • PBSci-Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology Department
  • Institute of Marine Sciences

  • Professor
  • Chair

Regular Faculty

Professor Ottemann's Research

Biomed 238


1156 High Street
Santa Curz CA 95064

• B.S, University of California, Davis (Bacteriology)
• Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard University (with John Mekalanos)
• Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley in Biochemistry (with Daniel E. Koshland, Jr.)

Infection by the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori
Bacterial chemotaxis

How pathogenic bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori use environmental cues to establish infection.

For pathogenic bacteria to set up an infection, they must know that they have arrived at the proper location. Karen Ottemann's laboratory investigates how bacteria translate chemical and physical cues in their host environment into an advantageous response.

Ottemann lab members are particularly interested in how pathogens use swimming during infection, using the bacterium Helicobacter pylori as a model for this ability. This pathogen infects some 3 billion people and can lead to serious disease, including ulcers and cancer. Bacteria do not swim at random, but instead direct their motility (chemotaxis) by the activity of sensing proteins called chemoreceptors. The chemotaxis system thus allows us to examine the types of cues sensed by pathogens.

Molecular microbiology

  • BIOL/METX 119: Microbiology
  • BIOL/METX 119L Microbiology Lab
  • METX 200: Interdisciplinary Approaches in Environmental Toxicology
  • METX 206A: Advanced Microbiology

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