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
Bomhoff, M., Youens-Clark, K., Ponsero, A. J., Hurwitz, B. L., Choi, I., & Hartman, J. H. (2018). Libra: Using Hadoop for Comparative Metagenomics. HPDC.
Degnan, P. H., Leonardo, T. E., Cass, B. N., Hurwitz, B., Stern, D., Gibbs, R. A., Richards, S., & Moran, N. A. (2010). Dynamics of genome evolution in facultative symbionts of aphids. Environmental microbiology, 12(8), 2060-9.

Aphids are sap-feeding insects that host a range of bacterial endosymbionts including the obligate, nutritional mutualist Buchnera plus several bacteria that are not required for host survival. Among the latter, 'Candidatus Regiella insecticola' and 'Candidatus Hamiltonella defensa' are found in pea aphids and other hosts and have been shown to protect aphids from natural enemies. We have sequenced almost the entire genome of R. insecticola (2.07 Mbp) and compared it with the recently published genome of H. defensa (2.11 Mbp). Despite being sister species the two genomes are highly rearranged and the genomes only have ∼55% of genes in common. The functions encoded by the shared genes imply that the bacteria have similar metabolic capabilities, including only two essential amino acid biosynthetic pathways and active uptake mechanisms for the remaining eight, and similar capacities for host cell toxicity and invasion (type 3 secretion systems and RTX toxins). These observations, combined with high sequence divergence of orthologues, strongly suggest an ancient divergence after establishment of a symbiotic lifestyle. The divergence in gene sets and in genome architecture implies a history of rampant recombination and gene inactivation and the ongoing integration of mobile DNA (insertion sequence elements, prophage and plasmids).

Hurwitz, B. L., Hallam, S. J., & Sullivan, M. B. (2013). Metabolic reprogramming by viruses in the sunlit and dark ocean. Genome biology, 14(11), R123.

Marine ecosystem function is largely determined by matter and energy transformations mediated by microbial community interaction networks. Viral infection modulates network properties through mortality, gene transfer and metabolic reprogramming.

Bolduc, B., Youens-Clark, K., Roux, S., Hurwitz, B. L., & Sullivan, M. B. (2017). iVirus: facilitating new insights in viral ecology with software and community data sets imbedded in a cyberinfrastructure. The ISME journal, 11(1), 7-14.

Microbes affect nutrient and energy transformations throughout the world's ecosystems, yet they do so under viral constraints. In complex communities, viral metagenome (virome) sequencing is transforming our ability to quantify viral diversity and impacts. Although some bottlenecks, for example, few reference genomes and nonquantitative viromics, have been overcome, the void of centralized data sets and specialized tools now prevents viromics from being broadly applied to answer fundamental ecological questions. Here we present iVirus, a community resource that leverages the CyVerse cyberinfrastructure to provide access to viromic tools and data sets. The iVirus Data Commons contains both raw and processed data from 1866 samples and 73 projects derived from global ocean expeditions, as well as existing and legacy public repositories. Through the CyVerse Discovery Environment, users can interrogate these data sets using existing analytical tools (software applications known as 'Apps') for assembly, open reading frame prediction and annotation, as well as several new Apps specifically developed for analyzing viromes. Because Apps are web based and powered by CyVerse supercomputing resources, they enable scalable analyses for a broad user base. Finally, a use-case scenario documents how to apply these advances toward new data. This growing iVirus resource should help researchers utilize viromics as yet another tool to elucidate viral roles in nature.