Jennifer Jo Wernegreen

Associate Professor in the Department of Biology

101 Science Drive, Box 3382, 2175 CIEMAS, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
101 Science Drive, CIEMAS Rm. 2175, Duke University, Box 3382, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 681-0331
Research in our lab centers on environmental and evolutionary genomics, primarily in bacteria. Broadly, our group explores mechanisms shaping genetic and functional variation in microbes that play important roles in the natural environment. Much of our work integrates evolutionary, population genetic, computational, and molecular approaches to clarify how bacterial genomes change over time. Among these studies, we are exploring how ecological interactions – such as symbiosis - influence genome content and architecture of the species involved. Conversely, we also explore how genomic alterations can impact microbial functions and interactions. As models to link genomics and environmental biology, we largely focus on mutualistic microbes, including bacteria that supply essential nutrients to invertebrate hosts.


  • Ph.D., Yale University 1998

Wernegreen, JJ. "Genomic signatures of intracellularity: Evolutionary patterns and paces in bacterial mutualists and parasites." In Bacterial pathogenomics,edited by MJ Pallen, KE Nelson, and GM Preston. Amer Society for Microbiology, 2007. (Chapter)

Wernegreen, JJ. "In it for the long haul: evolutionary consequences of persistent endosymbiosis." Current opinion in genetics & development 47 (December 2017): 83-90. (Review) Full Text

Wernegreen, JJ. "Ancient bacterial endosymbionts of insects: Genomes as sources of insight and springboards for inquiry." Experimental cell research 358, no. 2 (September 2017): 427-432. (Review) Full Text

Brown, BP, and Wernegreen, JJ. "Deep divergence and rapid evolutionary rates in gut-associated Acetobacteraceae of ants." Bmc Microbiology 16, no. 1 (July 11, 2016): 140-null. Full Text

Wernegreen, JJ. "Endosymbiont evolution: predictions from theory and surprises from genomes." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1360 (December 2015): 16-35. (Review) Full Text

Yung, C-M, Vereen, MK, Herbert, A, Davis, KM, Yang, J, Kantorowska, A, Ward, CS, Wernegreen, JJ, Johnson, ZI, and Hunt, DE. "Thermally adaptive tradeoffs in closely related marine bacterial strains." Environmental microbiology 17, no. 7 (July 2015): 2421-2429. Full Text

Fan, Y, and Wernegreen, JJ. "Can't take the heat: high temperature depletes bacterial endosymbionts of ants." Microb Ecol 66, no. 3 (October 2013): 727-733. Full Text

Wernegreen, JJ. "First impressions in a glowing host-microbe partnership." Cell Host Microbe 14, no. 2 (August 14, 2013): 121-123. Full Text

McFall-Ngai, M, Hadfield, MG, Bosch, TCG, Carey, HV, Domazet-Lošo, T, Douglas, AE, Dubilier, N, Eberl, G, Fukami, T, Gilbert, SF, Hentschel, U, King, N, Kjelleberg, S, Knoll, AH, Kremer, N, Mazmanian, SK, Metcalf, JL, Nealson, K, Pierce, NE, Rawls, JF, Reid, A, Ruby, EG, Rumpho, M, Sanders, JG, Tautz, D, and Wernegreen, JJ. "Animals in a bacterial world, a new imperative for the life sciences." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110, no. 9 (February 7, 2013): 3229-3236. (Review) Full Text

Fan, Y, Thompson, JW, Dubois, LG, Moseley, MA, and Wernegreen, JJ. "Proteomic analysis of an unculturable bacterial endosymbiont (Blochmannia) reveals high abundance of chaperonins and biosynthetic enzymes." Journal of Proteome Research 12, no. 2 (February 2013): 704-718. Full Text


Selected Grants

Summer Scholars Program in Genome Sciences and Medicine awarded by National Institutes of Health (Significant Contributor). 2017 to 2022

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2005 to 2021

Genetics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1979 to 2020

How Responsive are Bacterial Endosymbionts to Physiological and Eological Variation in Their Ant Hosts? awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2014

Mechanisms and Consequences of Deleterious Evolution in Bacteria awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2001 to 2013

Illumina Hi-Seq 2000 Sequencing System awarded by National Institutes of Health (Major User). 2012 to 2013