Beth Ann Lazazzera

Associate Professor, MIMG, University of California Los Angeles


Molecular Sciences
Los Angeles, CA 90095 Molecular Sciences
Los Angeles, CA 90095

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Beth Lazazzera received her Ph.D. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT. She arrived at UCLA in 1999 and joined the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG). She has participated in numerous instructional activities at UCLA and has taught the course “Introduction to Microbiology”, MIMG101, from 2001-2018. Since 2019, she has taught the introductory biology course, LS7A, “Cell and Molecular Biology”. She has been participating in workshops offered by the Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences (CEILS) since its inception and was a Scientific Teaching Fellow at the Mobile Summer Institute at UCLA. Beyond her teaching at UCLA, she concurrently spent 5 years as one of the lead instructors for the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Advanced Bacterial Genetics Course. Dr. Lazazzera is a past Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education in MIMG, past-Chair of the Academic Senate Undergraduate Council, and is current the Chair of the Life Science Education Department. Dr. Lazazzera’s laboratory studies bacterial social behavior and evolution. They have identified mechanisms by which Gram-positive bacteria are able to communication using peptide signals and mechanisms by which these bacteria can form biofilms. They are currently collaborating to determine a mechanism to disrupt biofilms that form on orthopedic devices. They are also studying how disruption of translational quality control pathways can disrupt the social behavior of bacteria. This led to the finding that problems in translation will lead to a higher mutation rate, which contributes to increased frequency of antibiotic resistance development. Future work is aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie these bacterial behaviors.


Member, Immunity, Microbes & Molecular Pathogenesis GPB Home Area

Research Interests

Our laboratory studies the molecular basis of how bacterial cells are able to communicate through a process called quorum sensing. We also have begun applying our expertise to study the physiological role of tRNA synthetase editing in bacteria. QUORUM SENSING Quorum sensing (QS) is a mechanism by which bacteria secrete and sense signaling molecules in order to monitor their cell density. QS regulates such processes as development, antibiotic production, and virulence. We are working to identify new mechanism of QS and their physiological role. We have identified several putative genes for extracellular signaling peptides in the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae, some of which sit inside island of pathogenicity genes. We have recently shown that one of these peptide signaling cassettes is required for virulence by S. pneumoniae. Our goal is to determine whether these putative signaling peptides mediate QS and how they contribute to virulence. EDITING FUNCTION OF tRNA SYNTHETASES Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) are ancient and universally essential enzymes that pair tRNAs with the corresponding amino acids. To enhance accuracy, many aaRSs employ an editing activity that hydrolyzes incorrectly activated amino acids. Editing significantly decreases the frequency of mistakes in vitro, although the physiological role of editing in cells remains unknown, as aaRS editing functions are dispensable under certain conditions and absent in some cell types. Through a combination of genetic and physiological tests, we will determine under what conditions aaRS editing is required for viability. Specifically, we will test the hypothesis that editing is required under conditions of extreme slow cell growth.


Beth A. Lazazzera is a microbiologist who has been an arrived at UCLA in 1999 and was promoter to associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics in 2007. Dr. Lazazzera earned her B.S. in Microbiology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and her Ph.D. in Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her doctoral work advanced our understanding of the mechanism by which E. coli cells sense oxygen. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she began her work on bacterial communication, having identified a novel mechanism for bacterial cell-to-cell signaling.

Awards and Honors

  • Alternate for Scholar Award, Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Foundation, 2000.
  • Herman Smythe Award, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1994.
  • Predoctoral Fellowship, National Institutes of Health, 1990-1993.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Foundation, 1996-1999.