Dr. Andrew Benson

 Dr. Andrew Benson
W.W. Marshall Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology, Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, and Director Nebraska Food for Health Center
115 Food Innovation Center
Lincoln, NE 68588-6205

We believe in the power of every person.

Faculty Profile


Research Area:

1. Genome evolution in pathogenic bacteria. Comparative genomics, phylogenetics, and molecular biology are used to identify important events in the genome of pathogenic bacteria and understand the effects of genes and pathways marked by these events.

2. Evolution and development of gut microflora. 16S rRNA fingerprinting and sequencing is being used to examine development of the highly complex gut microflora in mammalian model systems, with the ultimate goal of identifying host genes that affect gut flora development.


  • B.S. Microbiology, Iowa State University
  • Ph.D. Microbiology, University of Texas
  • Post Doc. Molecular Biology, Princeton University

Teaching and/or Extension Activities

  • Food Microbiology, Advanced Food Microbiology, (908B Molecular Biology of FoodBorne Pathogens and 908B the Microarray Course)


Selected Publications:

Genome Evolution

1. Kim, J., J. Nietfeldt, and A.K. Benson. 1999. Octamer-based genome scanning distinguishes a unique subpopulation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 strains in cattle. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 96: 13288-13293.
2. Kim, J., J. W. Nietfeldt, J. Ju, J. Wise, P. Desmarchelier, N. Fegan, and A.K. Benson. 2001. Ancestral divergence, genome diversification, and phylogeographic variation in subpopulations of sorbitol-negative, ?-glucuronidase negative Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157. J. Bacteriol. 183: 6885-6897.
3. Zhang, C., M. Zhang, J. Ju, J. Nietfeldt, J. Wise, P.M. Terry, M. Olson, S.D. Kachman, M. Wiedmann, M. Samadpour, and A.K. Benson. 2003. Genome diversification in phylogenetic lineages I and II of Listeria monocytogenes: Identification of segments unique to lineage II populations. J. Bacteriol. 185: 5573-5584.
4. Yang, Z., J. Kovar, J. Kim, J. Niefteldt, D.R. Smith, R. A. Moxley, M. E. Olson, P. D. Fey, and A.K. Benson. 2004 Identification of common subpopulations of sorbitol-non-fermenting, beta-glucuronidase-negative Escherichia coli O157:H7 from bovine production environments and human clinical samples. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 70 (11): 6846-6854.
5. Zhang, C., J. Nietfeldt, M. Zhang, and A.K. Benson. 2005. Functional consequences of genome evolution in Listeria monocytogenes: the lmo0423 and lmo0422 genes encode sigma C and LstR, a lineage II-specific heat shock system. J. Bacteriol. 187: 7243-7253.
6. Dempsey, M.P., J. Nietfeldt, J. Ravel, S. Hinrichs, R. Crawford, and A.K. Benson. 2006. Paired-end sequence mapping detects extensive genomic rearrangement and translocation during divergence of Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis and Francisella tularensis subsp. holartica populations. J. Bacteriol. 188(16). 5904-5914.
7. Zhang, Y., C. Liang, M. Steele, K. Ziebell, R. Johnson, A. K. Benson, E. Taboada, and V. P. J Gannon. 2007. Genome evolution in major Escherichia coli O157:H7 lineages. BMC Genomics 8: 121.
8. Dempsey MP, M. Dobson, C. Zhang, M. Zhang, C. Lion, C.B. Gutierrez-Martin, P. Iwen, P. Fey, M. Olson, D. Niemeyer, S. Francesconi, R. Crawford, M. Stanley, J. Rhodes, D.M. Wagner, A.J. Vogler, D. Birdsell, P. Keim, A. Johansson, S. Hinrichs, and A.K. Benson. 2007. Genomic deletion marking an emerging subclone of Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica in France and the Iberian Peninsula. Appl. Environ Microbiol. 73: 7465-7470.
9. Yang, Z., J. Kim, C. Zhang, M. Zhang, J. Nietfeldt, C.M. Southward, M.G. Surette, S.D. Kachman, and A.K. Benson. 2009. Genomic instability in regions adjacent to the pch prophage diversifies expression patterns of the LEE pathogenicity island in E. coli O157:H7. J. Bacteriol. 191(11): 3553-3568.

Gut microbiome

10. Martinez, I, G. Wallace, C. Zhang, R. Legge, A.K. Benson, T.P. Carr, E. Moriyama, and J. Walter. 2009. Diet-induced metabolic improvements in a hamster model of hypercholesterolemia are strongly linked to alterations of the gut microbiota. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 75: 4175-4184.
11. Steele, M., K. Ziebell, Y. Zhang, A. Benson, R. Johnson, C. Liang, E. Taboada, and V. Gannon. 2009. Genomic regions conserved in lineage II Escherichia coli O157:H7 strains. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 75: 3271-3280.
12. Oh, P.L., A.K. Benson, D.A. Peterson, P.B. Patil, E.N.Moriyama, S.N. Roos, and J. Walter. 2009. Diversification of the gut symbiont Lactobacillus reuteri as a result of host-driven evolution. ISME J. 4: 377-87.
13. Benson AK, Kelly SA, Legge R, Ma F, Low SJ, Kim J, Zhang M, Oh PL, Nehrenberg D, Hua K, Kachman SD, Moriyama EN, Walter J, Peterson DA, Pomp D. Individuality in gut microbiota composition is a complex polygenic trait shaped by multiple environmental and host genetic factors. 2010. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107(44):18933-8. Epub 2010 Oct 11. PubMed PMID: 20937875 [Comment in Jermy A. Host genes shape the gut microbiota. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2010. 8(12):838. PubMed PMID: 21125700.
14. Frese SA, Benson AK, Tannock GW, Loach DM, Kim J, Zhang M, Oh PL, Heng NC,
Patil PB, Juge N, Mackenzie DA, Pearson BM, Lapidus A, Dalin E, Tice H, Goltsman E, Land M, Hauser L, Ivanova N, Kyrpides NC, Walter J. 2011. The evolution of host specialization in the vertebrate gut symbiont Lactobacillus reuteri. PLoS Genet. (2):e1001314. Epub 2011 Feb 17. PubMed PMID: 21379339
15. Kasaikina MV, Kravtsova MA, Lee BC, Seravalli J, Peterson DA, Walter J, Legge R, Benson AK, Hatfield DL, Gladyshev VN. Dietary selenium affects host selenoproteome expression by influencing the gut microbiota. 2011. FASEB J. 2011 25(7):2492-9. Epub 2011 Apr 14. PubMed PMID: 21493887

16. McKnite AM, Perez-Munoz ME, Lu L, Williams EG, Brewer S, Andreux PA, Bastiaansen JW, Wang X, Kachman SD, Auwerx J, Williams RW, Benson AK, Peterson DA, Ciobanu DC. 2012. Murine gut microbiota is defined by host genetics and modulates variation of metabolic traits. PLoS One. 7(6):e39191. Epub 2012 Jun 18.PubMed PMID: 22723961; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3377628.

17. Sanapareddy N, Legge RM, Jovov B, McCoy A, Burcal L, Araujo-Perez F, Randall TA, Galanko J, Benson A, Sandler RS, Rawls JF, Abdo Z, Fodor AA, Keku TO. Increased rectal microbial richness is associated with the presence of colorectal adenomas in humans. 2012. ISME J. 2012 May 24. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2012.43. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22622349.

 Benson's pdf page

Research Areas