Ashley Groshong, Ph.D.


Bacterial Physiology and Metabolism Unit, Lab of Bacteriology


Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Building 6, Room 6304
903 South 4th Street
Hamilton, MT 59840


Research Topics

Lyme disease is primarily caused by the host's immune response to the presence of the spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium is delivered by an Ixodes spp. tick and can disseminate throughout the host, persisting primarily within the skin. While the bacteria is quite efficient in mammalian infection, it is wholly dependent on nutrient acquisition from host environments (both mammal and tick) during its lifecycle. Dissecting and understanding the nutrient requirements and acquisition pathways will provide insight into potential therapeutic avenues that could be utilized in clinical cases or even environmental remediation.

These studies currently focus on B. burgdorferi's amino acid acquisition pathway. The spirochete is unable to synthesize its own amino acids, however, it only encodes a few free amino acid transporters. Unlike other bacteria, B. burgdorferi is completely reliant upon a multicomponent peptide transporter to bring in the bulk of necessary amino acids. This discovery has prompted an investigation into peptide sources within the host and vector which sustains bacterial colonization throughout the enzootic cycle, specialized roles peptides and/or peptide uptake may play during infection and tick colonization, and supportive roles that the additional free amino acid transporters may play.


Dr. Groshong received a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry and English at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She began studying Borrelia burgdorferi and its virulence determinants during her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Connecticut Health Center where she studied B. burgdorferi gene regulation throughout the enzootic cycle and continued on as an Instructor of Basic Science, where she began developing her studies on amino acid acquisition by the spirochete.

Selected Publications

  1. Grassmann AA, Tokarz R, Golino C, McLain MA, Groshong AM, Radolf JD, Caimano MJ. BosR and PlzA reciprocally regulate RpoS function to sustain Borrelia burgdorferi in ticks and mammals. J Clin Invest. 2023;133(5).
  2. Groshong AM, Grassmann AA, Luthra A, McLain MA, Provatas AA, Radolf JD, Caimano MJ. PlzA is a bifunctional c-di-GMP biosensor that promotes tick and mammalian host-adaptation of Borrelia burgdorferi. PLoS Pathog. 2021;17(7):e1009725.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Thursday, August 17, 2023