top of page
3 Ticks and a Brush
5 Backside Up2b
Cover_02 1
side by side colony smash
2018-04-26.25_Caleb-Lac719-d719 (E)
Pf_plaque_06 copy
Depeltion aggregates
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. We study Interactions between bacteria, bacteriophages, and the immune system. We are particularly interested in developing phage-based therapeutics to combat antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.
Follow us on Twitter @PRSecor and/or


Rob 2023 poster.jpg

Dominick Faith, PhD student, CMMB

Dom and Rob represented the lab well at the 2023 Molecular Genetics of Bacteria and Phages Meeting at UW Madison. Dom scored a talk and Rob was a top ten finalist for his poster on enteric prophages protecting AIEC from lytic phages by modulating host amino acid metabolism.


PhD students Valery Roman-Cruz & Caleb Schwartzkopf graduated from the Cellular, Molecular, and Microbiology Graduate Program, 2023!

PhD student Camilla de Mattos was awarded the Center for Phage Therapy at TAMUbest abstract award at the 2022 ASMicrobe conference in DC. Camilla graduated with a PhD from the Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology Graduate Program Jan. 2023. Congrats Camilla!

PhD student Dominick Faith was awarded th
e Toelle-Bekken Memorial Fund scholarship, Research Explorer Program & Travel Scholarship, and a Experiential Learning Scholarship Fund Award



PhD candidate Amelia Schmidt received an honorable mention for her GRFP application on phage-host-microbe interactions between filamentous phage, P. aeruginosa, and animal hosts.

Papers published in 2023:
de Mattos CD*, Faith DR*, Nemudryi AA, Schmidt AK*, Bublitz DC, Hammond L, Kinnersley MA, Schwartzkopf CM*, Robinson AJ**, Joyce A**, Michaels LA, Brzozowski RS, Coluccio A, Xing DD, Uchiyama J, Jennings LK, Eswara P, Wiedenheft B, Secor PR. Polyamines and linear DNA mediate bacterial threat assessment of bacteriophage infection. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023;120(9):e2216430120 link

Sapiro AL, Hayes BM, Volk RF, Zhang JY, Brooks DM, Martyn C, Radkov A, Zhao Z, Kinnersley M, Secor PR, Zaro BW, Chou S. 2023. Longitudinal map of transcriptome changes in the Lyme pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi during tick-borne transmission. eLife, 2023


Wachter, J., Cheff, B., Hillman, C., Carracoi, V., Dorward, D.W., Martens, C., Barbian, K., Nardone, G., Olano, R.L., Kinnersley, M, Secor, P.R., and Rosa, P.A. Coupled induction of prophage and virulence factors during tick transmission of the Lyme disease spirochete. Nature Communications, 2023


Schmidt, A.K., Faith, D.R., Secor, P.R., Cell Host & Microbe, Jan 2023. PICI thieves: Molecular piracy and cooperation


Schwartzkopf CM*, Robinson AJ**, Ellenbecker M, Faith DR*, Schmidt AK*, Brooks DM, Lewerke L*, Voronina E, Dandekar AA, Secor PR. Tripartite interactions between filamentous Pf4 bacteriophage, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and bacterivorous nematodes. PLoS Pathog. 2023;19(2):e1010925 link

New papers (2022): 

Secor, P. R., Michales, L. A., Bublitz, D.C., Jennings, L.K., Singh, P.K. (2022). The Depletion Mechanism Actuates Bacterial Aggregation by Exopolysaccharides and Determines Species Distribution & Composition in Bacterial Aggregates. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol.

Faith, D., Kinnersley, M., Schwartzkopf, C.M., de Mattos, C.D., Schmidt, A.K., and Secor, P.R. (2022). Complete Genome Sequence of the N4-like Pseudomonas aeruginosa Bacteriophage vB_PaeP_CMS1. Microbiol Resour Announc, e0023922. 10.1128/mra.00239-22.


van Rossem, M., Wilks, S., Kaczmarek, M., Secor, P.R., and D'Alessandro, G. (2022). Modelling of filamentous phage-induced antibiotic tolerance of P. aeruginosa. PLoS One 17, e0261482. 10.1371/journal.pone.0261482.

New funding:

May 2022: NIH Administrative Supplement for our Lyme disease vaccine research with Scott Samuels and the Center for Translational Medicine at U Montana

June 2022: CBSD Pilot Award to study conformational changes in small phage proteins bound to different host proteins

New paper: PhD student Amelia Schmidt published her work in the Feb 2022 issue of mBio: A Filamentous Bacteriophage Protein Inhibits Type IV Pili to Prevent Superinfection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Click here to read.


New paper: Dr. Laura Jennings published her paper "Pseudomonas aeruginosa aggregates in cystic fibrosis sputum produce exopolysaccharides that likely impede current therapies" in Cell ReportsVol 34, Issue 8, 23 February 2021. Click here to read.


Student success spring 2021: Undergraduate Devin Hunt achieved a perfect score on the MCAT! See this link for the full story. This spring, Devin will be joining the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease as an IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Fellow with the Centralized Sequencing Initiative. Congrats Devin!


New grant, March 2021: Congratulations to Margie Kinnersley on her Montana INBRE proposal exploring phages as drivers of genetic variation in Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease).


New grant, June 2020: We are grateful to the NIH NIDDK for supporting our E. coli phage work in collaboration with the Round lab at the University of Utah. The goal of this project is to determine how lysogenic phages that infect adherent invasive E. coli affect inflammatory diseases in the gut. See our recent commentary here.


New grant, March 2020: We are grateful to the NIH NIAID for supporting our Borrelia phage work. The goal of this project is to determine the role of ΦBB-1 phages in spirochete transmission and Lyme disease pathogenesis. 


New paper: Secor and Dandekar, More than Simple Parasites: the Sociobiology of Bacteriophages and Their Bacterial Hosts. mBio March 10, 2020.


New paper: Pf Bacteriophage and Their Impact on Pseudomonas Virulence, Mammalian Immunity, and Chronic infections. Secor et al., Front. Immunol., 21 February 2020 |

In the media: Undergraduate Devin Hunt featured in a University of Montana Commercial:

New paper: The Immune Response to Chronic P. aeruginosa Wound Infection in Immunocompetent Mice, 

Sweere et al., Advances in Wound Care, Dec 2019,

In the media: The lab was featured in Vision Magazine: From Bench to bedside.

Our work was featured on ASMs This Week in Microbiology!


April 2019: Undergraduate Autumn Robinson was nominated as student employee of the year 2019. Congrats Autumn!!


April 2019: Another paper out in collaboration with Paul Bollyky and team in Science Translational Medicine. "Filamentous bacteriophages are associated with chronic Pseudomonas lung infections and antibiotic resistance in cystic fibrosis"

Screen Shot 2019-04-19 at 9.26.07 AM.png

April 2019: New paper in collaboration with Paul Bollyky and team in Science. "Bacteriophage trigger antiviral immunity and prevent clearance of bacterial infection"

Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 5.24.04 PM.png

Oct 1st, 2018: Our aggregate work was published in PNAS! Lab members Lia Michaels and Laura Jennings are authors. Congrats to all! UM press release:

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 1.54.22 PM.png

June 8, 2018: Our R01 was FUNDED!! This grant from the NIH NIAID will allow us to develop an anti-phage vaccine to treat and prevent bacterial infections. In collaboration with the Bollyky lab at Stanford and Chanden Sen at Indiana. Check out this related piece in the local paper here.

June 2018: Lia and Caleb presented their work at the 2018 Wind River Conference on Prokaryotic Biology. Lia was selected for a Lightning Talk and Caleb won a Travel Award. Congrats to them both!

April 2018: Pat presented at the OBEE Brewery CHALK Talk Series at Imagine Nation Brewery in Missoula, MT. Check out the line-up here: 








April 27, 2018: Jake and Autumn presented their work at the 2018 UM Conference on Undergraduate Research. Autumn received a Conference Award for her poster presentation "A bacteriophage integrase regulates virulence factor production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa." Congratulations Autumn! 











April 2018: Thank you to the University of Montana's Genome Core Facility and Illumina for supporting our

P. aeruginosa bacteriophage work!


Dec. 2017: Our proposal to study filamentous Pf bacteriophage as a therapeutic target was funded by the Falk Charitable trust! This project is a collaboration between the Secor Lab at the University of Montana, the Bollyky Lab at Stanford, The Ohio State, and Baylor University. See UMs press release for more info.

bottom of page