Zakee Sabree

Assistant Professor
Graduate Faculty

Research Interests

Whether free-living in extremely diverse communities in the ocean or residing solitarily in highly specialized tissues of a host organism, microbes exert an immense impact on the way nutrients are acquired, sequestered, recycled and distributed in natural systems.

Our group is interested in the functional and trophic relationships that forge intimate host-microbe interactions and shape bacterial communities, and the evolutionary outcomes of these symbioses.

Two main questions guide our current research:

  1. How are symbiotic microbes employed by their hosts to obtain essential nutrients and facilitate trophic niche expansions
  2. What are the structural and functional impacts of ancient and obligate associations with eukaryotes on the genomes, genes and gene products of their bacterial partners

Insects, specifically cockroaches and termites, are the focus of my research because they are ubiquitous, participate significantly in biomass turnover and maintain, often simultaneously, various types of symbioses with microbes.

We employ legacy microbiological tools as well as current and emergent molecular and genomics techniques to address several specific aspects of these questions.

Zakee Sabree's Curriculum Vitae [pdf]

Recent Publications

  • Kenyon LJ, Meulia T and Sabree ZL.The invasive agricultural pest, Halyomorpha halys, harbors a beneficial, externally-transmitted bacterial mutualist. (under revision @ Genome Biology and Evolution).
  • Bansal R, Michel AP and Sabree ZL. 2014. The crypt-dwelling primary bacterial symbiont of the polyphagous pentatomid pest Halyomorpha halys. Environmental Entomology. 43:537-548.
  • Kenyon LJ and Sabree ZL. 2014. Obligate insect endosymbionts exhibit increased ortholog length variation and loss of large accessory proteins concurrent with genome shrinkage. Genome Biology and Evolution. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evu055.
  • Sabree ZL and Moran NA. 2014. Host-specific assemblages typify gut microbial communities of related insect species. SpringerPlus 3:138.
  • Tokuda G, Elbourne L, Kinjo Y, Saitoh S, Sabree Z[L], Hojo M, Yamada A, Hayashi Y, Shigenobu S, Bandi C, Paulsen I, Watanabe H, Lo N. 2013. Maintenance of essential amino acid synthesis pathways in Blattabacterium symbionts of a wood-feeding cockroach. Biology Letters. 9:20121153.
  • Sabree ZL, Huang CY, Okusu A, Moran NA, Normark BB. 2013. Uzinura is the sole nutrient-supplying endosymbiont of armored scale insects. Environmental Microbiology. 15:1988-99.
  • Huang CY, Sabree ZL, Moran NA. 2012. Genome sequence of Blattabacterium sp. strain BGIGA, endosymbiont of the Blaberus giganteus cockroach. Journal of Bacteriology. 194:4450-1.
  • Sabree ZL, Hansen AK, Moran NA. 2012. Independent studies using deep sequencing resolve the same set of core bacterial species dominating gut communities of honey bees. PLoS One. 7:e41250.
  • Moran NA, Hansen AK, Powell JE, Sabree ZL. 2012. Distinctive gut microbiota of honey bees assessed using deep sampling from individual worker bees. PLoS One. 7:e36393.
  • Sabree ZL, Huang CY, Arakawa G, Tokuda G, Lo N, Watanabe H, Moran NA. 2012. Genome shrinkage and loss of nutrient-providing potential in the obligate symbiont of the primitive termite Mastotermes darwiniensis. Applied and Environemental Microbiology. 78:204-210.
  • Olivier-Espejel, S, Sabree ZL, Noge K, Becerra JX. 2011. Gut microbiota in nymph and adults of the Giant Mesquite Bug (Thasus neocalifornicus) (Heteroptera: Coreidae) is dominated by Burkholderia acquired de novo every generation. Environmental Entomology. 40:1102-1110.
  • Degnan PD, Bittleston LS, Hansen AK, Sabree ZL, Moran NA, Almeida RPP. 2011. Origin and examination of a leafhopper facultative endosymbiont. Current Microbiology. 62:1565- 1572. 
  • Sabree ZL, Degnan PH, Moran NA. 2010. Chromosome stability and gene loss in cockroach endosymbionts. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 76:4076-9.
  • Sabree ZL, Kambhampati S, Moran NA. 2009. Nitrogen recycling and nutritional provisioning by Blattabacterium, the cockroach endosymbiont. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 106:19521-19526.
  • Sabree ZL, Rondon MR, Handelsman J. 2009. Metagenomics, In: Encyclopedia of Microbiology, Moselio Schaechter, Editor-in-Chief. Academic Press, Oxford. 622-632.
  • Sabree ZL, Bergendahl V, Liles MR, Burgess RR, Goodman RM, Handelsman J. 2006. Identification and characterization of the gene encoding the Acidobacterium capsulatum major sigma factor. Gene 376:144-51.
  • Stapleton RD, Sabree ZL, Palumbo AV, Moyer CL, Devol AH, Roh Y, Zhou JZ. 2005. Metal reduction at cold temperatures by Shewanella isolates from various marine environments. Aquatic Microbial Ecology. 38:81-91.


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Areas of Expertise
  • Genome evolution
  • Insect microbe interactions
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Microbial Evolution and Ecology

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(614) 292-2452
426 Aronoff Lab