Bonnie L Hurwitz
Assistant Professor, Agricultural-Biosystems Engineering
Assistant Professor, BIO5 Institute
Assistant Professor, Genetics - GIDP
Assistant Professor, Statistics-GIDP
Clinical Instructor, Pharmacy Practice-Science
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-9819
Work Summary
Our lab focuses on large-scale –omics datasets, high-throughput computing, and big data analytics. We leverage these technologies to answer questions related to the relationship between microbes, their hosts, and the environment. In particular, we focus on viral-host interactions and co-evolution given environmental factors (i) in aquatic systems and (ii) for phage treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.
Research Interest
Dr. Bonnie Hurwitz is an Assistant Professor of Biosystems Engineering at the University of Arizona and BIO5 Research Institute Fellow. She has worked as a computational biologist for nearly two decades on interdisciplinary projects in both industry and academia. Her research on the human/earth microbiome incorporates large-scale –omics datasets, high-throughput computing, and big data analytics towards research questions in “One Health”. In particular, Dr. Hurwitz is interested in the relationship between the environment, microbial communities, and their hosts. Dr. Hurwitz is well-cited for her work in computational biology in diverse areas from plant genomics to viral metagenomics with over 1200 citations


Ball, C. L., Daniel, S. G., Besselsen, D. G., Hurwitz, B. L., & Doetschman, T. C. (2017). Functional changes in the gut microbiome contribute to Transforming Growth Factor β-deficient colon cancer. mSystems, 2(5), 1-17.
BIO5 Collaborators
David G Besselsen, Thomas C Doetschman, Bonnie L Hurwitz
Spichler, A., Hurwitz, B. L., Armstrong, D. G., & Lipsky, B. A. (2015). Microbiology of diabetic foot infections: from Louis Pasteur to 'crime scene investigation'. BMC medicine, 13, 2.

Were he alive today, would Louis Pasteur still champion culture methods he pioneered over 150 years ago for identifying bacterial pathogens? Or, might he suggest that new molecular techniques may prove a better way forward for quickly detecting the true microbial diversity of wounds? As modern clinicians faced with treating complex patients with diabetic foot infections (DFI), should we still request venerated and familiar culture and sensitivity methods, or is it time to ask for newer molecular tests, such as 16S rRNA gene sequencing? Or, are molecular techniques as yet too experimental, non-specific and expensive for current clinical use? While molecular techniques help us to identify more microorganisms from a DFI, can they tell us 'who done it?', that is, which are the causative pathogens and which are merely colonizers? Furthermore, can molecular techniques provide clinically relevant, rapid information on the virulence of wound isolates and their antibiotic sensitivities? We herein review current knowledge on the microbiology of DFI, from standard culture methods to the current era of rapid and comprehensive 'crime scene investigation' (CSI) techniques.

Watts, G. S., Youens-Clark, K., Slepian, M. J., Wolk, D. M., Oshiro, M. M., Metzger, G. S., Dhingra, D., Cranmer, L. D., & Hurwitz, B. L. (2017). 16S rRNA gene sequencing on a benchtop sequencer: accuracy for identification of clinically important bacteria. Journal of applied microbiology, 123(6), 1584-1596.

Test the choice of 16S rRNA gene amplicon and data analysis method on the accuracy of identification of clinically important bacteria utilizing a benchtop sequencer.

Hurwitz, B. L., Westveld, A. H., Brum, J. R., & Sullivan, M. B. (2014). Modeling ecological drivers in marine viral communities using comparative metagenomics and network analyses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(29), 10714-9.

Long-standing questions in marine viral ecology are centered on understanding how viral assemblages change along gradients in space and time. However, investigating these fundamental ecological questions has been challenging due to incomplete representation of naturally occurring viral diversity in single gene- or morphology-based studies and an inability to identify up to 90% of reads in viral metagenomes (viromes). Although protein clustering techniques provide a significant advance by helping organize this unknown metagenomic sequence space, they typically use only ∼75% of the data and rely on assembly methods not yet tuned for naturally occurring sequence variation. Here, we introduce an annotation- and assembly-free strategy for comparative metagenomics that combines shared k-mer and social network analyses (regression modeling). This robust statistical framework enables visualization of complex sample networks and determination of ecological factors driving community structure. Application to 32 viromes from the Pacific Ocean Virome dataset identified clusters of samples broadly delineated by photic zone and revealed that geographic region, depth, and proximity to shore were significant predictors of community structure. Within subsets of this dataset, depth, season, and oxygen concentration were significant drivers of viral community structure at a single open ocean station, whereas variability along onshore-offshore transects was driven by oxygen concentration in an area with an oxygen minimum zone and not depth or proximity to shore, as might be expected. Together these results demonstrate that this highly scalable approach using complete metagenomic network-based comparisons can both test and generate hypotheses for ecological investigation of viral and microbial communities in nature.

Hass-Jacobus, B. L., Futrell-Griggs, M., Abernathy, B., Westerman, R., Goicoechea, J., Stein, J., Klein, P., Hurwitz, B., Zhou, B., Rakhshan, F., Sanyal, A., Gill, N., Lin, J., Walling, J. G., Luo, M. Z., Ammiraju, J. S., Kudrna, D., Kim, H. R., Ware, D., , Wing, R. A., et al. (2006). Integration of hybridization-based markers (overgos) into physical maps for comparative and evolutionary explorations in the genus Oryza and in Sorghum. BMC genomics, 7, 199.

With the completion of the genome sequence for rice (Oryza sativa L.), the focus of rice genomics research has shifted to the comparison of the rice genome with genomes of other species for gene cloning, breeding, and evolutionary studies. The genus Oryza includes 23 species that shared a common ancestor 8-10 million years ago making this an ideal model for investigations into the processes underlying domestication, as many of the Oryza species are still undergoing domestication. This study integrates high-throughput, hybridization-based markers with BAC end sequence and fingerprint data to construct physical maps of rice chromosome 1 orthologues in two wild Oryza species. Similar studies were undertaken in Sorghum bicolor, a species which diverged from cultivated rice 40-50 million years ago.