Edward G. Ruby

Professor, Kewalo Marine Lab

Microbe-host signaling; Bacterial behavior (bioluminescence, chemotaxis and quorum sensing); Comparative genomics and population biology



Kewalo Lab 318


(808) 539-7309


(808) 599-4817

Research Interests

One goal of my research is to determine the signaling pathways controlling the initial steps of bacteria-host interaction.  Specifically, we develop and use the squid-Vibrio light-organ symbiosis as a natural model system for determining the connection between bacterial behavior (motility, MAMPs secretion and aggregation) and the stepwise triggering of host responses during the initiation of a specific association. My background in microbiology covers a number of different organisms and levels of analysis, but the interconnecting thread is an interest in the dynamics of microbe-host associations. As a doctoral student, my thesis research introduced me to microbial physiology and bacterial bioluminescence. As a postdoc I studied microbial symbiosis (i) collecting the first bacteria isolated from the newly discovered deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and physiologically characterized them as sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotrophs and, (ii) describing the biochemistry of cell-envelope modification underlying the predatory activity of the intracellular bacterium, Bdellovibrio.  While on the faculty at USC and, later, U Wisconsin-Madison, I continued the study of microbe-host interactions, entering into a 20+-year collaboration with Dr. M. McFall-Ngai to develop the Vibrio fischeri-sepiolid squid light-organ association as a model for beneficial bacteria-host associations. Now, at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, I continue to develop bacterial genetic and genomic approaches to examine mechanisms underlying cellular behavior (e.g., flagellar motility and quorum sensing) and signaling between host and symbiont (MAMPs production, outer-membrane vesicle signals). 

Selected Publications

Thompson, L, K Nikolakakis, S Pan, J Reed, R Knight and EG Ruby. 2017. Characterization of Vibrio fischeri transcriptional activity during colonization of the juvenile squid host.  Environ Microbiol 19:1845-1856 (PMC5409853)

Aschtgen, M-S, JB Lynch, E Koch, J Schwartzman, M McFall-Ngai, EG Ruby. 2016. Rotation of Vibrio fischeri flagella produces outer membrane vesicles that induce host development. J Bacteriol 198:2156-2165. (PMC4966437)

Bongrand, C, EJ Koch, S Moriano-Gutierrez, OX Cordero, MJ McFall-Ngai, MF Polz and EG Ruby. 2016. A genomic comparison of 13 symbiotic Vibrio fischeri isolates from the perspective of their host source and colonization behavior. ISME J 10:2907-2917 (PMC5148191)

Nikolakakis K, K Monfils, S Moriano-Gutierrez, CA Brennan, EG Ruby. 2015. Characterization of the Vibrio fischeri fatty acid chemoreceptors, VfcB and VfcB2. Appl Environ Microbiol. 82:696-704. doi:10.1128/AEM.02856-15. (PMC4711111)

Aschtgen, M-S, K Wetzel, W Goldman, M McFall-Ngai and EG Ruby. 2015. Vibrio fischeri-derived outer membrane vesicles trigger host development. Cellul Microbiol 18:488-499. (PMC4803540)