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Colin Dale

Professor of Biological Sciences

Microbiology and Molecular Evolution, Insects and Endosymbionts



Molecular Biology Program


B.S. University of West England

Ph.D. University of Liverpool



Research in the Dale lab explores the nature of symbiotic interactions between animals and bacteria.  We utilize an integrative approach that employs genomic, transcriptomic, molecular genetic and molecular evolutionary analysis techniques. The mainstay of our research focuses on insects, which are known to harbor mutualistic bacterial symbionts that play important roles in host nutrition and defense. We explore a range of topics including: (i) elucidating the origin of insect-bacterial relationships, (ii) the causes and consequences of genome degeneration in bacterial symbionts, (iii) the molecular basis of interactions between insects and symbiotic bacteria, and (iv) the use of symbionts to express foreign gene in insects of medical and agricultural importance to combat disease.  We also collaborate with Denise Dearing and Robert Weiss on a project that seeks to understand the role of microbes in the detoxification of plant secondary compounds in woodrats that persist on toxic diets such as creosote and juniper.  Our work shows that gut microbes produce enzymes that assist in the breakdown of these compounds, reducing the burden of detoxification placed on the animal liver.


  1. Kohl, K., Oakeson, K., Dunn, D., Meyerholz, D., Dale, C., Weiss, R. and Dearing, M.D. 2017. Patterns of host gene expression associated with harboring a foregut microbial community. BMC Genomics. 18: 697.
  2. Miller, A.W., Dale, C. and Dearing, M.D. 2017. The Induction of Oxalate Metabolism in vivo is More Effective with Functional Microbial Communities than with Functional Microbial Species. mSystems. 2: e00088-17
  3. Enomoto, S., Chari, A., Clayton, A.L., Dale, C. 2017. Quorum Sensing Attenuates Virulence in Sodalis praecaptivus. Cell Host and Microbe. 21: 629-636.
  4. Clayton, A., Enomoto, S., Dale, C. 2016. The regulation of antimicrobial peptide resistance in the transition to insect symbiosis. Molecular Microbiology. 10.1111/mmi.13598
  5. Clayton, A., Jackson, D.G., Weiss, R.B., Dale, C. 2016. Adaptation by Deletogenic Replication Slippage in a Nascent Symbiont. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 33: 1957-1966.
  6. Miller, A., Oakeson, K.F., Dale, C., Dearing, M.D. 2016. Microbial Community Transplant Results in Increased and Long-term Oxalate Degradation. Microbial Ecology. 72: 470-478.
  7. Miller, A., Oakeson, K.F., Dale, C., Dearing, M.D. 2016. The Effect of Dietary Oxalate on the Gut Microbiota of the Mammalian Herbivore Neotoma albigula. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 82: 2669-2675.
Last Updated: 6/30/21