Robert A. Burne, Ph.D.

A pic of Robert Burne

Distinguished Professor, Oral Biology
Department of Oral Biology
1395 Center Drive, D5-26
Box 100424
Gainesville, FL, 32610-0424
Phone: 352-273-8847
Email Dr. Burne

  • Ph.D. University of Rochester, Microbiology and Immunology, 1987
  • B.S. Pennsylvania State University, Microbiology, 1981

Main Interests

The primary interests in my laboratory are in the molecular mechanisms governing the ability of bacteria that are capable of causing diseases in humans to modulate their virulence in response to environmental influences. To accomplish this, a variety of microbiological, biochemical, and recombinant DNA technologies are employed. These include the use of continuous culture techniques to tightly control growth parameters of bacteria, coupled with the use of genetically-engineered bacteria and gene fusion technology, which allows for a detailed molecular analysis of gene expression in response to specific stimuli. These systems are also being utilized for identifying and characterizing signal transduction systems and cis– and trans– acting factors controlling bacterial virulence expression. In addition, there is a major commitment to studying bacterial biofilms grown in custom-fabricated bioreactors using gene fusion techniques and confocal laser microscopy. The specific projects in the lab are focused in four major areas. The first is a detailed study of the genetics and physiology of polysaccharide metabolism and its relationship to virulence and biofilm formation by oral streptococci. The second project is a molecular genetic analysis of the role of the stress regulon in control of gene expression. The third project is a broad-based approach to understanding the genetics and physiology of ureases and arginine metabolism by streptococci and actinomycetes. The final project utilizes a multi-species biofilm model system coupled with the use of genetically engineered bacteria to explore microbial ecology and the pathogenesis of polymicrobial infectious diseases.


Novel Probiotic Mechanisms of the Oral Bacterium Streptococcus sp. A12 as Explored with Functional Genomics.
Lee K, Walker AR, Chakraborty B, Kaspar JR, Nascimento MM, Burne RA.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019 Oct 16;85(21). pii: e01335-19. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01335-19. Print 2019 Nov 1.
PMID: 31420345

Carbohydrate and PepO control bimodality in competence development by Streptococcus mutans.
Underhill SAM, Shields RC, Burne RA, Hagen SJ.
Mol Microbiol. 2019 Nov;112(5):1388-1402. doi: 10.1111/mmi.14367. Epub 2019 Aug 29. 
PMID: 31403729

Fluorescence Tools Adapted for Real-Time Monitoring of the Behaviors of Streptococcus Species.
Shields RC, Kaspar JR, Lee K, Underhill SAM, Burne RA.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019 Jul 18;85(15). pii: e00620-19. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00620-19. Print 2019 Aug 1.
PMID: 31101614

Metabolic Profile of Supragingival Plaque Exposed to Arginine and Fluoride.
Nascimento MM, Alvarez AJ, Huang X, Browngardt C, Jenkins R, Sinhoreti MC, Ribeiro APD, Dilbone DA, Richards VP, Garrett TJ, Burne RA.
J Dent Res. 2019 Oct;98(11):1245-1252. doi: 10.1177/0022034519869906. Epub 2019 Aug 27.
PMID: 31454264

Arginine Metabolism in Supragingival Oral Biofilms as a Potential Predictor of Caries Risk.
Nascimento MM, Alvarez AJ, Huang X, Hanway S, Perry S, Luce A, Richards VP, Burne RA.
JDR Clin Trans Res. 2019 Jul;4(3):262-270. doi: 10.1177/2380084419834234. Epub 2019 Apr 30. 
PMID: 31039043

Spontaneously Arising Streptococcus mutans Variants with Reduced Susceptibility to Chlorhexidine Display Genetic Defects and Diminished Fitness.
Kaspar JR, Godwin MJ, Velsko IM, Richards VP, Burne RA.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2019 Jun 24;63(7). pii: e00161-19. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00161-19. Print 2019 Jul.
PMID: 31036688

Amino Sugars Modify Antagonistic Interactions between Commensal Oral Streptococci and Streptococcus mutans.
Chen L, Chakraborty B, Zou J, Burne RA, Zeng L.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019 May 2;85(10). pii: e00370-19. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00370-19. Print 2019 May 15.
PMID: 30877119

Species Designations Belie Phenotypic and Genotypic Heterogeneity in Oral Streptococci.
Velsko IM, Chakraborty B, Nascimento MM, Burne RA, Richards VP.
mSystems. 2018 Dec 18;3(6). pii: e00158-18. doi: 10.1128/mSystems.00158-18. eCollection 2018 Nov-Dec.
PMID:  30574560

Intracellular Signaling by the comRS System in Streptococcus mutans Genetic Competence.
Underhill SAM, Shields RC, Kaspar JR, Haider M, Burne RA, Hagen SJ.
mSphere. 2018 Oct 31;3(5). pii: e00444-18. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00444-18. Erratum in: mSphere. 2019 Feb 13;4(1):.  
PMID:  30381353

Essential Roles of the sppRA Fructose-Phosphate Phosphohydrolase Operon in Carbohydrate Metabolism and Virulence Expression by Streptococcus mutans.

Zeng L, Burne RA.

J Bacteriol. 2018 Dec 20;201(2). pii: e00586-18. doi: 10.1128/JB.00586-18. Print 2019 Jan 15.

PMID: 30348833

Threshold regulation and stochasticity from the MecA/ClpCP proteolytic system in Streptococcus mutans competence.

Son M, Kaspar J, Ahn SJ, Burne RA, Hagen SJ.

Mol Microbiol. 2018 Dec;110(6):914-930. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13992. Epub 2018 Nov 11.

PMID:  29873131

Competence inhibition by the XrpA peptide encoded within the comX gene of Streptococcus mutans.

Kaspar J, Shields RC, Burne RA.

Mol Microbiol. 2018 Aug;109(3):345-364. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13989. Epub 2018 Jul 31.

PMID:  29802741

Preferred Hexoses Influence Long-Term Memory in and Induction of Lactose Catabolism by Streptococcus mutans.

Zeng L, Chen L, Burne RA.

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2018 Jul 2;84(14). pii: e00864-18. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00864-18. Print 2018 Jul 15.

PMID:  29752268

Genomewide Identification of Essential Genes and Fitness Determinants of Streptococcus mutans UA159.

Shields RC, Zeng L, Culp DJ, Burne RA.

mSphere. 2018 Feb 7;3(1). pii: e00031-18. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00031-18. eCollection 2018 Jan-Feb.

PMID:  29435491

Getting to Know “The Known Unknowns”: Heterogeneity in the Oral Microbiome.

Burne RA.

Adv Dent Res. 2018 Feb;29(1):66-70. doi: 10.1177/0022034517735293. Review.

PMID:  29355408

Diversity in Antagonistic Interactions between Commensal Oral Streptococci and Streptococcus mutans.

Huang X, Browngardt CM, Jiang M, Ahn SJ, Burne RA, Nascimento MM.

Caries Res. 2018;52(1-2):88-101. doi: 10.1159/000479091. Epub 2017 Dec 20.

PMID:  29258070

Differential oxidative stress tolerance of Streptococcus mutans isolates affects competition in an ecological mixed-species biofilm model.

Liu Y, Palmer SR, Chang H, Combs AN, Burne RA, Koo H.

Environ Microbiol Rep. 2018 Feb;10(1):12-22. doi: 10.1111/1758-2229.12600. Epub 2017 Dec 4.

PMID:  29124888

Genome-Wide Screens Reveal New Gene Products That Influence Genetic Competence in Streptococcus mutans.

Shields RC, O’Brien G, Maricic N, Kesterson A, Grace M, Hagen SJ, Burne RA.

J Bacteriol. 2017 Dec 20;200(2). pii: e00508-17. doi: 10.1128/JB.00508-17. Print 2018 Jan 15.

PMID:  29109185

Oral Biofilms: Pathogens, Matrix, and Polymicrobial Interactions in Microenvironments.

Bowen WH, Burne RA, Wu H, Koo H.

Trends Microbiol. 2018 Mar;26(3):229-242. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2017.09.008. Epub 2017 Oct 30. Review.

PMID:   29097091

Oxidative Stressors Modify the Response of Streptococcus mutans to Its Competence Signal Peptides.

De Furio M, Ahn SJ, Burne RA, Hagen SJ.

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2017 Oct 31;83(22). pii: e01345-17. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01345-17. Print 2017 Nov 15.

PMID: 28887419