Photo of Peter  Setlow, Ph.D.

Peter Setlow, Ph.D.

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor
Professor, Department of Molecular Biology and Biophysics
Academic Office Location:
Molecular Biology and Biophysics
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-3305
Phone: 860-679-2607
Fax: 860-679-3408

Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Graduate Program

B.A.Swarthmore CollegeChemistry
Ph.D.Brandeis UniversityBiochemistry

Post-Graduate Training
PostdoctoralDepartment of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of MedicineFellow with Dr. Arthur Kornberg
FellowshipDepartment of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of MedicineResearch Fellow with Dr. Arthur Kornberg

Name of Award/HonorAwarding Organization
Elected a memberConnecticut Academy of Science and Engineering
Recipient of the first Journal of Bacteriology Editors’ Award for Service on the Journal of Bacteriology Editorial Board Journal of Bacteriology
Elected to first class of Academy of Distinguished EducatorsUniversity of Connecticut Health Center
Elected Honorary MemberSociety for Applied Microbiology
Osborn Biomedical Science Graduate Teaching Award RecipientGraduate Student Organization
Appointed as a Board of Trustees Distinguished ProfessorUCONN Health Center
Elected a FellowAmerican Academy of Microbiology
MERIT Award for the Study of “Degradative Reactions in Spore Germination” 1994-2004National Institutes of Health
Recognition for Outstanding Teaching Second Year Medical and Dental Students
Postdoctoral Fellowship 1968-1970National Science Foundation
Predoctoral Fellowship 1965-1968 Revson Foundation
Elected to Sigma XiSwarthmore College
Name & DescriptionCategoryRoleTypeScopeStart YearEnd Year
NASA Sub-Committee on Planetary Protection with regard to delivery of soil samples from Mars to the earth and concerns about "space bugs"OthermemberExternalNational20232023
American Academy of MicrobiologyProfessional/Scientific OrganizationNominated one fellowExternalState20232023
NIH (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Study section, June 2023)Study SectionAd Hoc Member at one meetingExternalNational2023
Senior Appointments and Promotion Committee, UCHC SOMStudy SectionVice ChairUConn HealthLocal20222022
School of Medicine Executive Committee on Academic Compensation PlanProvide advice to Chair/Exec CteEducation CommitteeAd Hoc MemberUConn HealthUniversity20222022
Medical Dean's task Force on BylawsAdvisory CommitteeMemberUConn HealthLocal20222022
PLoS OneProfessional/Scientific JournalEditorExternalNational20192023
Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalEditorial BoardExternalInternational20142023
International Journal of Food MicrobiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalEditorial BoardExternalInternational20142023
Scientific ReportsProfessional/Scientific JournalEditorial BoardExternalInternational20132023
Journal of Applied MicrobiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalEditorExternalNational20112019
PLoS OneProfessional/Scientific JournalEditorExternalNational20112019
Letters in Applied MicrobiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalEditorExternalNational20112019
Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesProfessional/Scientific JournalGuest EditorExternalNational20112012
Society for Applied Microbiology Professional/Scientific JournalElected Honorary MemberExternalNational2006
American Society for Biological ChemistryProfessional/Scientific JournalMemberExternalNational
Senior Appointments and Promotion CommitteeAdvisory CommitteeVice-ChairUConn HealthUniversity
First year Medical/Dental Teaching Operating CommitteeEducation CommitteeMemberUConn HealthUniversity
Dept of Molecular, Microbial and Structural Biology OtherElected MemberUConn HealthUniversity
Standing Committee on Research MisconductEducation CommitteeChairUConn HealthUniversity
American Association for the Advancement of ScienceProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalNational
Army Research OfficeProfessional/Scientific OrganizationAd hoc reviewer ExternalNational
National Biodefense and Analysis Countermeasures CenterProfessional/Scientific OrganizationAd hoc reviewer ExternalNational
Defense Threat Reduction Agency Professional/Scientific OrganizationAd hoc reviewer ExternalNational
National Science FoundationProfessional/Scientific OrganizationAd hoc reviewer ExternalNational
Journal of Electrostatics Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
Letters in Applied MicrobiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
International Journal of Astrobiology Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
Journal of Infection and ImmunityProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
Journal of Proteomics Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
Journal of NanobiotechnologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
Journal of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
African Journal of Biotechnology Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
BiochimieProfessional/Scientific JournalBiochimieExternalInternational
Journal of Applied MicrobiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
Journal of Food Science Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
Journal of Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
International Journal of Microbiology Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
Journal of Proteome Research Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
The Journal of Cell BiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational

Spores of bacteria of Bacillus species are extraordinarily resistant to all manner of harsh treatments, and largely because of this resistance, spores of some Bacillus species are major agents of food spoilage and food-borne and other diseases (eg-Bacillus anthracis). The conversion of a dormant Bacillus spore into a vegetative bacterium by the process of spore germination is also a relatively simple differentiating system that is readily amenable to both biochemical and genetic analysis. While much has been learned in recent years on the mechanisms of spore resistance and germination, there is still much that is unknown. Dr. Setlow's laboratory has ongoing multidisciplinary research projects attempting to determine: 1) the mechanisms involved in the extraordinary resistance of spores to heat and oxidizing agents; 2) the mechanism(s) of spore germination and its heterogeneity; and 3) the structure and organization of the inner membrane of spores. Methods used in these projects include: 1) molecular biology to make directed mutants in key spore genes; 2) confocal fluorescence spectroscopy to localize and co-localize proteins in spores; 3) determination of structures of key spore germination and resistance proteins by X-ray crystallography; 4) classical genetics to identify new genes important in aspects of spore germination and resistance; 5) identify new factors important in spore resistance; 6) determine the mechanism(s) whereby moist heat, the most commonly used method to kill spores, actually works to kill spores; and 7) determine factors responsible for the extreme heterogeneity in spore germination such that while most spores in populations germinate within 30 min of addition of a germinant, a small percentage of spores may not germinate for hours or even days.

Accepting Lab Rotation Students: Summer 2022, Fall 2022, and Spring 2023

Lab Rotation Projects
Lab Rotation Projects can involve the use of many, many different techniques and include:

1) Overexpression, purification and crystallization of several proteins involved in spore germination.

2) Analysis of the mechanism of the “commitment” of spores to germinate, and what factors influence this commitment.

3) Analysis of the role of divalent cations, especially Mn2+ ions, in protecting spores against a variety of oxidizing agents;

4) Isolate and characterize mutant Bacillus subtilis strains that are defective in germination with multiple nutrient germinants, as such mutants might allow identification of a putative “integrator” protein that sums up signals from many different germinants to “direct” a rate of spore germination appropriate for the germination condition;

5) Isolate a mutant defective in the germination with cationic surfactants that appear to work by interactinf directly with the spore’s plasma membrane in some fashion.

6) Construction of a functional fusion to Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) to a germination protein and localization of this GFP fusion in spores, as well as colocalization with other germination proteins;

7) Use electron microscopy to probe for the existence of a close packed array of spore germination proteins in the spore’s plasma membrane.

Journal Articles


  • Smith I, Slepecky RA, Setlow P (eds.) Regulation of Procaryotic Development: Structural and Functional Analysis of Bacterial Sporulation and Germination 1989 Jan;

Book Chapters

  • High pressure thermal sterilization technology for bacterial spore inactivation and the production of sterile, ambient-stable, low-acid foods.
    Doona, C.J. and Setlow, P. High Pressure Thermal Processing 2022 Dec;
  • Endoprotease GPR
    Setlow P Handbook of Proteolytic Enzymes 1998 Jan;
  • Regulation of expression of the sspE gene which codes for small, acid soluble protein-gamma of Bacillus subtilis spores.
    Setlow, P., P. Fajardo, R.H. Hackett, J.M. Mason, B.C. Setlow and D. Sun. Genetics and Biotechnology of Bacilli 1987 Jan;157-162
  • Small, acid-soluble spore proteins of Bacillus: products of a sporulation-specific, multigene family
    Fliss, E.R., M.J. Connors, C.A. Loshon, E. Curiel-Quesada, B. Setlow and P. Setlow. Molecular Biology of Microbial Development 1985 Jan;60-66
  • Spores and their significance
    P. Setlow, E.A. Johnson Food Microbiology, Fundamentals and Frontiers, 5th edition 23-64


Book Sections

  • Bacterial Spores
    Setlow,Peter Industrial Pharmaceutical Microbiology-Supplement 2010 May;S10.1 - S10.16
  • Resistance of bacterial spores
    Setlow P Bacterial Stress Response 2010 Jan;319-332
  • Enhanced safety and extended shelf life of fresh produce for the military
    Setlow P, Doona CJ, Feeherry FE, Kustin K, Sisson D, Chandra S Microbial Safety of Fresh Produce: Challenges, Perspectives and Strategies 2009 Jan;263-288
  • Mycobacteria make spores?
    Setlow P Small Things Considered: The Microbe Blog 2009 Jan;
  • Bacterial endospores: mechanisms that contribute to their longevity and resistance
    Setlow P Biological Indicators for Sterilization Processes 2008 Jan;25-54
  • Effects of high pressure on spores
    Setlow P High-Pressure Microbiology 2008 Jan;35-52
  • Germination of spores of Bacillus subtilis by high pressure
    Setlow P High Pressure Processing of Foods 2007 Jan;15-40
  • Spores and their significance
    Setlow P, Johnson EA Food Microbiology, Fundamentals and Frontiers 2007 Jan;35-67
  • Endoprotease GPR
    Setlow P Handbook of Proteolytic Enzymes 2003 Jan;1183-1187
  • Spore germination and outgrowth
    Paidhungat M, Setlow P Bacillus subtilis and its Relatives: from Genes to Cells 2002 Jan;537-548
  • Spores and their significance
    Setlow P, Johnson EA Food Microbiology 2001 Jan;33-70
  • Resistance of bacterial spores
    Setlow P Bacterial Stress Responses 2000 Jan;217-230
  • Morphogenesis and properties of the bacterial spore
    Driks A, Setlow P Prokaryotic Development 1999 Jan;191-218
  • Spores and their significance
    Setlow P, Johnson E Food Microbiology 1997 Jan;30-65
  • DNA structure, spore formation and spore properties
    Setlow P Spores XI: Regulation of Bacterial Differentiation 1993 Jan;181-194
  • Spore structural proteins
    Setlow P Bacillus subtilis and other Gram-Positive Bacteria: Biochemistry, Physiology, and Molecular Genetics 1993 Jan;801-809
  • Sporulation, germination and outgrowth
    Nicholson WL, Setlow P Molecular Biological Methods for Bacillus 1990 Jan;391-450
  • Studies of DNA topology during Bacillus subtilis sporulation
    Nicholson WL, Sun D, Setlow P Genetics and Biotechnology of Bacilli, Vol. 3 1990 Jan;339-348
  • Forespore specific genes of Bacillus subtilis: function and regulation of expression
    Setlow P Regulation of Procaryotic Development 1989 Jan;211-221
  • Genes coding for small, acid soluble spore proteins of Bacillus subtilis: cloning, expression, regulation, mapping and deletion
    Setlow P, Mason JM, Connors MJ Bacillus Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology Applications 1986 Jan;171-183
  • Protein degradation during bacterial spore germination
    Setlow P Fundamental and Applied Aspects of Bacterial Spores 1985 Jan;285-296
  • Germination and outgrowth
    Setlow P The Bacterial Spore, Vol. II 1983 Jan;211-254
  • Degradation of dormant spore protein during germination of Bacillus megaterium spores
    Setlow P Limited Proteolysis in Microorganisms 1978 Jan;109-117
  • Protein metabolism during germination of spores of Bacillus megaterium
    Setlow P Spore Research 1976 1977 Jan;662-682
  • Energy metabolism and metabolism of small molecules during germination of spores of Bacillus species
    Setlow P Spores VI 1975 Jan;443-450
  • Protein degradation and amino acid metabolism during germination of Bacillus megaterium spores
    Setlow P, Primus G Spores VI 1975 Jan;451-457

Conference Papers





Short Surveys