John Beckmann, PhD.
not so Distinguished Assistant Professor of STUFF
“We Build Toys, Some Toys Change the World” – NNT
B.S. – Auburn University, Computer Science, (in progress)
Postdoc. – Yale University, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, 2014-2017
Ph.D. – University of Minnesota, Entomology, 2014
B.A. – University of Minnesota, Physiology, 2009
B.A. – University of Minnesota, Art, 2009
Assistant Professor – Auburn University, Entomology and Plant Pathology
Medical Entomology Forensic Entomology Consulting Biotechnology Reproductive Biology Data Visualization / Scientific Illustration Textile Engineering
Professional Associations… None to speak of
“The many speak highly of you, but have you really any grounds for satisfaction with yourself if you are the kind of person the many understand?” – Seneca
“We Build Toys. Some Toys Change the World.” – N.N.T.
Beckmann’s research focuses on mosquitoes and a bacteria named Wolbachia. Wolbachia lives inside insect testes and sterilizes sperm. One goal is to use Wolbachia as a means of sterilizing insect pests. Beckmann discovered the Wolbachia toxin-antidote operons responsible for the above insect sterility and characterized their enzymatic functions. This research led to multiple awards, grants, and patents and has been published in high impact journals such as Nature, Nature Microbiology, PNAS, and Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His research has been highlighted by popular news outlets including Wired, The Scientist, and Nature News and Views.
Cytoplasmic Incompatibility: Wolbachia induce conditional sterility in insects called cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). CI is used for direct suppression of insects via the sterile insect technique (SIT). SIT is the release of large numbers of sterile males to outcompete for mating with females. Ecologically, SIT drives down species-specific target populations and avoids pesticides. Endogenous CI is also a potent natural gene drive capable of transforming insect populations. Our research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying CI and also how it can collapse in the wild.
Insect Transgenesis: To develop novel biotechnologies for transforming wild insect populations our lab uses advanced molecular biology to build and implement genetic modification of insects. Our research focuses on mosquito and Drosophila transgenesis using transposon based genome integrations.
Microbial Pathogens: Our lab also studies bacterial effector proteins from obligate intracellular organisms that cause epidemic typhus, scrub typhus, and rocky mountain spotted fever. All these diseases are transmitted by arthropods. Understanding genes that facilitate microbial/host interactions in both humans and arthropod systems are of paramount importance.
Recent Courses taught
Biotechnology 1 (Spring); Medical Entomology (Fall); Scientific Illustration (Fall night)
- A deubiquitylase with an unusually high-affinity ubiquitin binding domain from the scrub typhus pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi. Jason Berk, Christopher Lim, Judith Ronau, Apala Chaudhuri, Hongli Chen, John Beckmann, Patrick Loria, Yong Xiong, and Mark Hochstrasser. 2020 Nature Communications
- The Wolbachia cytoplasmic incompatibility enzyme CidB targets nuclear import and protamine-histone exchange factors. John F. Beckmann, Gagan Deep Sharma, Luis Mendez, Hongli Chen, and Mark Hochstrasser. 2019 eLIFE
- A Wolbachia nuclease and its binding partner provide a distinct mechanism for cytoplasmic incompatibility. Hongli Chen, Judith Ronau, John F. Beckmann, and Mark Hochstrasser. 2019 PNAS
- Caution Does Not Preclude Predictive and Testable Models of Cytoplasmic Incompatibility. John F. Beckmann, Manon Bonneau, Hongli Chen, Mark Hochstrasser, Denis Poinsot, Hervé Merçot, Mylène Weill, Mathieu Sicard, and Sylvain Charlat 2019. Trends in Genetics
- The Toxin–Antidote Model of Cytoplasmic Incompatibility: Genetics and Evolutionary Implications. John F. Beckmann, Manon Bonneau, Hongli Chen, Mark Hochstrasser, Denis Poinsot, Hervé Merçot, Mylène Weill, Mathieu Sicard, and Sylvain Charlat 2019. Trends in Genetics
- Beckmann, J. F., Ronau, J. A., Hochstrasser, M. A Wolbachia Deubiquitylating Enzyme Induces Cytoplasmic Incompatibility. Nature Microbiology 2017
- LePage D. P., Metcalf J. A., Bordenstein S. R., On J., Perlmutter J. I., Shropshire J. D., Layton E. M., Funkhouser-Jones L. J., Beckmann, J. F., Bordenstein, S. Prophage WO Genes Recapitulate and Enhance Wolbachia-Induced Cytoplasmic Incompatibility. Nature 2017
- Ronau, J. A., Beckmann, J. F. & Hochstrasser, M. Substrate specificity of the ubiquitin and Ubl proteases. Cell research 2016.
- Beckman, J.F. Molecular Mechanism of Wolbachia Induced Cytoplasmic Incompatibilty PhD Thesis, University of Minnesota 2014.
- Beckmann, J. F. & Fallon, A. M. Detection of the Wolbachia protein WPIP0282 in mosquito spermathecae: implications for cytoplasmic incompatibility. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 43, 867-878 2013.
- Beckmann, J. F., Markowski, T. W., Witthuhn, B. A. & Fallon, A. M. Detection of the Wolbachia-encoded DNA binding protein, HU beta, in mosquito gonads. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 43, 272-279 2013.
If you think you have what it takes to compete in my lab… send me an email… email@example.com … even wolves need nurturing
“Pain is temporary, but a Nature paper is forever” – on the wall in the basement at Yale in a Zebrafish microinjection room.