Erin Gloag, PhD
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology

About the Gloag Lab

The Gloag Lab is a part of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. We are housed in the Center for One Health Research and affiliated with the Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Arthropod-borne Pathogens.​ 

​The research mission of the Gloag Lab is to discover and understand the mechanisms by which pathogenic bacterial biofilms persist in a host to establish chronic infections. To achieve this mission the Gloag Lab uses multidisciplinary approaches, including in vitro and in vivo biofilm models, molecular microbiology, rheology, next generation sequencing and microscopy.
The two main research interests of the Gloag Lab are:

  1. Understand the fundamentals of biofilm biology, with a focus on biofilm mechanics, to discern how biofilms interface with the host to resist chemical and mechanical clearance.
  2. Understand the biogeography and microbial ecology of an infection to identify mechanisms of microbial evolution, fitness benefits of adaptation, and bacterial interactions that facilitate persistent infection.

The Gloag Lab values and culture include:

  • Scientific excellence, with a focus on scientific rigor and ethical research
  • Support, assist and encourage each lab member to become successful scientists
  • Collegial, inclusive, collaborative, and intellectually stimulating team environment
  • Open communication between lab members
  • Recognize the importance of work-life balance and mental health


Biofilms are adhered communities of microorganisms, encased in a self-produced extracellular polymeric slime (EPS). This is the predominant lifestyle of bacteria, as it affords protection against external stressors and challenges, including desiccation, antimicrobials, and phagocytosis. In the context of human health and disease, these emergent collective phenotypes of biofilms permit pathogenic microorganisms to establish persistent chronic infections, that are recalcitrant to conventional therapy. The main research focus of the Gloag lab is to understand mechanisms by which biofilms resist clearance to persist during infection.

Biofilms use viscoelastic behaviour as a survival strategy.
Biofilms are viscoelastic materials, the properties of which are imparted by the EPS. As such viscoelasticity is a conserved, emergent behaviour of the biofilm. These properties allow biofilms to respond dynamically to, and withstand, external physical and chemical challenges. Viscoelasticity is considered an important survival adaptation strategy of biofilms, contributing to the virulence of biofilm-associated infections. The Gloag lab uses in vitro biofilm models, microscopy, and rheology to analyze biofilm viscoelasticity from biofilm biology, host-pathogen interactions, and translational perspectives.

Emergence of adapted variants facilitate persistence during chronic infection.
During chronic infection, bacteria undergo phenotypic conversion, by evolving genetically stable mutations. These variants display adaptive behaviour, including hyperbiofilm formation, increased tolerance to antimicrobials, and evasion of the immune system. Adapted variants are therefore more fit in infections and facilitate persistence. Isolation of evolved variants from infection samples is associated with worsening clinical outcomes. The Gloag lab uses in vivo animal models of infection, microscopy, and next generation sequencing to identify and understand the evolutionary pressures that drive the selection of bacterial variants, and the fitness benefits and infection niches associated with these variants.

Headshot of Erin Gloag.
Erin Gloag, principal Investigator

Erin Gloag graduated from the University of Technology Sydney with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Microbiology, in 2009. She performed her Ph.D. studies under the supervision of Prof. Cynthia Whitchurch, and co-supervision of Dr. Lynne Turnbull, in the ithree Institute at the University of Technology Sydney. Her graduate studies focused on understanding how bacteria coordinate collective behaviours during biofilm development. Erin Gloag received her Ph.D. in 2015.
Erin moved to the United States in 2015 and joined Prof. Daniel Wozniak’s lab as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, at the Ohio State University. Her research, performed in collaboration with Profs. Vaughn Cooper and Paul Stoodley, focused on understanding how Pseudomonas aeruginosa evolves and adapts in response to chronic infections, as well as analyzing how changes in extracellular polymeric slime (EPS) affects biofilm mechanical properties. During this time her research was funded by a Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and an American Heart Association Career Development Award.
Erin joined the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at Virginia Tech as an Assistant Proffesor in August 2022. Her lab is focused on understanding mechanisms by which bacterial biofilms persist during chronic infection.

Headshot of Stacie Deaver.
Stacie Deaver, research associate, lab manager

Stacie joined the Gloag Lab as a Research Associate in December 2022 and has over 15 years of experience in research and teaching. She completed her B.A in Biology from the University of San Diego and earned a M.S. in Animal Science from the University of Arizona. While her graduate work focused on the effects of nutrition on pregnancy in dairy cattle, it was during this time that she discovered a love for molecular biology and microscopy and has continued to pursue various aspects of these fields for over a decade. Stacie has worked in multiple areas as a lab manager and educator including animal science, cell communication, cancer biology, and biotechnology education. She is most excited to continue to pursue her interests in molecular biology and applying her knowledge to the fields of biofilm biology and host-pathogen interactions. 
Erin joined the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at Virginia Tech as an Assistant Proffesor in August 2022. Her lab is focused on understanding mechanisms by which bacterial biofilms persist during chronic infection.


  • Erin S. Gloag, Yalda Khosravi, James G. Masters, Daniel J. Wozniak, Carlo Amorin Daep, Paul Stoodley, (2022), A Combination of Zinc and Arginine Disrupt the Mechanical Integrity of Dental Biofilms, Microbiology Spectrum, Dec 6:e0335122. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.03351-22
  • Pranav S.J.B. Rana, Erin S. Gloag, and Daniel J. Wozniak, (2022), Standardized in vitro assays to visualize and quantify interactions between human neutrophils and Staphylococcus aureus biofilms. Journal of Visualized Experiments: Jove, (184)
  • Christopher J. Jones, Nikolas Grotewold, Daniel J. Wozniak, and Erin S. Gloag, (2022), Pseudomonas aeruginosa initiates a rapid and specific transcriptional response during surface attachment, Journal of Bacteriology, 204(5), e00086-22. 
  • Yiwei Liu, Erin S. Gloag, Preston J. Hill, Matthew R. Parsek, and Daniel J. Wozniak, (2022), Interbacterial antagonism mediated by a released polysaccharide, Journal of Bacteriology, 204(5), e00076-22
  • Oscar Rosas Mejia, Erin S. Gloag, Jianying Li, Marisa Ruane-Foster, Tiffany A. Claeys, Daniela Farkas, Shu-Hua Wang, Laszlo Farkas, Gang Xin, Richard T. Robinson, (2022), Mice infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis are resistant to acute disease caused by secondary infection with SARS-CoV-2, PLoS Pathogens, 18(3), e1010093


  • Erin S. Gloag, Daniel J. Wozniak, Kevin L. Wolf, James G. Masters, Carlo Amorin Daep, Paul Stoodley, (2021), Arginine induced Streptococcus gordonii biofilm detachment using a novel rotating-disc rheometry method, Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 11, 784388. doi:10.3389/fcimb.2021.784388
  • John R. Buzzo, Aishwarya Devaraj, Erin S. Gloag, Joseph A. Jurcisek, Frank Robledo-Avila, Theresa Kesler, Kathryn Wilbanks, Lauren Mashburn-Warren, Sabarathnam Balu, Joseph Wickham, Laura A. Novotny, Paul Stoodley, Lauren O. Bakaletz, Steven D. Goodman, (2021), Z-form extracellular DNA is a structural component of the bacterial biofilm matrix, Cell, 184 (23): 5740-5758.e17. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2021.10.010
  • Christopher W. Marshall*, Erin S. Gloag*, Christina Lim, Daniel J. Wozniak, Vaughn S. Cooper, (2021), Rampant prophage movement among transient competitors drives rapid adaptation during infection, Science Advances, 7(29), 10.1126/sciadv.abh1489
  • Erin S. Gloag, Daniel J. Wozniak, Paul Stoodley, Luanne Hall-Stoodley, (2021), Mycobacterium abscessus biofilms have viscoelasticity properties which may contribute to their recalcitrance in chronic pulmonary infections, Scientific Reports, 11(1), 1-8.


  • Yalda Khosravi, Raja Durga Prasad Kandukuri, Sara Palmer, Erin S. Gloag, Sergey M. Borisov, Michelle Starke, Marilyn Ward, Purnima Kumar, Dirk de Beer, Arjun Chennu, Paul Stoodley, (2020), Use of an oxygen planar optode to assess the effect of high velocity microsprays on oxygen penetration in a human dental biofilm in vitro, BMC Oral Health, 10.21203/rs.2.13863/v3
  • Erin S. Gloag, Stefania Fabbri, Daniel J. Wozniak, Paul Stoodley, (2019), Biofilm mechanics: implications in infection and survival, Biofilms, 100017


  • Aishwarya Devaraj, John R. Buzzo, Lauren Mashburn-Warren, Erin S. Gloag, Laura A. Novotny, Paul Stoodley, Lauren O. Bakaletz, and Steven D. Goodman, (2019), The extracellular DNA lattice of bacterial biofilms is structurally related to Holliday junction recombination intermediates, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, 10.1073/pnas.1909017116
  • Erin S. Gloag, Christopher W. Marshall, Daniel Snyder, Gina R. Lewin, Jacob S. Harris, Sarah B. Chaney, Marvin Whiteley, Vaughn S. Cooper, Daniel J. Wozniak, (2019), Pseudomonas aeruginosa interstrain dynamics and selection of hyperbiofilm mutants during a chronic infection, mBio, 10, 10.1128/mBio.01698-19.


  • Erin S. Gloag, Guy K. German, Paul Stoodley, Daniel J. Wozniak, (2018), Viscoelastic properties of Pseudomonas aeruginosa variant biofilms, Scientific Reports, 8: 9691, 10.1038/s41598-018-28009-5 


  • Cameron J. Zachreson, Xinhui Yap, Erin S. Gloag, Raz Shimoni, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, Milos Toth, (2017), Network patterns in exponentially growing two-dimensional biofilms, Physical Review E, 96: 042401, 10.1103/PhysRevE.96.042401


  • Erin S. Gloag, Christopher Elbadawi, Cameron J. Zachreson, Igor Aharonovich, Milos Toth, Ian G. Charles, Lynne Turnbull, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, (2016), Micro-patterned surfaces that exploit stigmergy to inhibit biofilm expansion, Frontiers in Microbiology, 7: 2157, 10.3389/fmicb.2016.02157
  • Erin S. Gloag, Muhammad A. Javed, Huabin Wang, Michelle L. Gee, Scott A. Wade, Lynne Turnbull, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, (2016), Stigmergy coordinates multicellular collective behaviours during Myxococcus xanthus surface migration, Scientific Reports, 6: 26005, 10.1038/srep26005
  • Lynne Turnbull, Masanori Toyofuku, Amelia L. Hynen, Masaharu Kurosawa, Gabriella Pessi, Nicola K. Petty, Sarah R. Osvath, Gerardo Cárcamo-Oyarce, Erin S. Gloag, Raz Shimoni, Ulrich Omasits, Satoshi Ito, Xinhui Yap, Leigh G. Monahan, Rosalia Cavaliere, Christian H. Ahrens, Ian G. Charles, Nobuhiko Nomura, Leo Eberl, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, (2016), Explosive cell lysis as a mechanism for the biogenesis of bacterial membrane vesicles and biofilms, Nature Communications, 7: 11220, 10.1038/ncomms11220
  • Erin S. Gloag, Lynne Turnbull, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, (2015), Bacterial Stigmergy: An Organising Principle of Multicellular Collective Behaviours of Bacteria. Scientifica, 8;10.1155/2015/387342)
  • Erin S. Gloag, Muhammad A. Javed, Huabin Wang, Michelle L. Gee, Scott A. Wade, Lynne Turnbull, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, (2013), Stigmergy: A key driver of self-organization in bacterial biofilms, Communicative and Integrative Biology, 6(6):10.4161/cib.27331
  • Erin S. Gloag, Lynne Turnbull, Alan Huang, Pascal Vallotton, Huabin Wang, Laura M. Nolan, Lisa Millili, Cameron Hunt, Jing Lu, Sarah R. Osvath, Leigh G. Monahan, Rosalia Cavaliere, Ian G. Charles, Matt P. Wand, Ranganathan Prabhakar, Michelle L. Gee, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, (2013), Self-organization of bacterial biofilms is facilitated by extracellular DNA, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, 110(28):11541-11546.