Pamela B. Brown, PhD


University of Missouri microbiologist Dr. Pamela Brown is uncovering how bacteria grow and take their shape.

Brown investigates the structure of bacterial cell walls. To grow, the existing wall must be broken to allow insertion of new material. Brown studies how and why the molecular machinery that builds the wall is targeted to specific cell locations at certain times.

Brown carries out her research using a common soil bacterium that causes tumor-like growths in certain fruit trees. Scientists have harnessed the bacterium’s ability to transfer its DNA into plant cells in order to purposefully transform plants. Brown’s research may inform efforts to prevent plant disease as well as enhance biotechnology applications. Since the cell wall is required for most bacteria to survive, the research also may yield insights that could lead to new targets for antibiotics.

In addition to her research, Brown is a passionate science educator whose teaching excellence has been celebrated with the College of Arts and Science’s Purple Chalk Teaching Award and the Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award. She also shares science with local high schools, using antibiotic resistance as a model lab exercise to teach evolution.

Dr. Pamela Brown is an assistant professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Science with a courtesy appointment in the School of Medicine. She is a member of MU’s Interdisciplinary Plant Group.

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Academic Information

Associate Professor
Biological Sciences
P. 573-884-0214

Research Interests

  • Molecular basis for polar growth in Agrobacterium tumefaciens

Areas of Expertise

  • Bacterial Genetics
  • Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • Cell Biology
  • Bacteriology

Education & Training

Post-Graduate School

2006, PhD, University of Georgia

Awards & Honors

  • Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award 2016
  • College of Arts and Science Purple Chalk Teaching Award 2015


MA Williams, PJ Friedrichsen, TD Sadler, PJB Brown. 2018. Modeling the Emergence of Antibiotic Resistance in Bacterial Populations. The American Biology Teacher 80 (3), 214-220.

SA Flores, M Howell, JJ Daniel, R Piccolo, PJB Brown. 2018. Absence of the Min system does not cause major cell division defects in Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Frontiers in Microbiology 9, 681.

H Attai, J Rimbey, GP Smith, PJB Brown. 2017. Expression of a peptidoglycan hydrolase from lytic bacteriophages Atu_ph02 and Atu_ph03 triggers lysis of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 83 (23), e01498-17.

C Zhang, PJB Brown, Z Hu. 2017. Thermodynamic properties of an emerging chemical disinfectant, peracetic acid. Science of The Total Environment.

M Howell, JJ Daniel, PJB Brown. 2017. Live Cell Fluorescence Microscopy to Observe Essential Processes During Microbial Cell Growth. Journal of visualized experiments: JoVE

M Howell, A Aliashkevich, AK Salisbury, F Cava, GR Bowman, PJB Brown. 2017. Absence of the polar organizing protein PopZ results in reduced and asymmetric cell division in Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Journal of bacteriology 199 (17), e00101-17

M Howell, PJB Brown. 2016. Building the bacterial cell wall at the pole. Current Opinion in Microbiology 34, 53-59.

W Figueroa-Cuilan, JJ Daniel, M Howell, A Sulaiman, PJB Brown. 2016. Mini-Tn7 insertion in an artificial attTn7 site enables depletion of the essential master regulator CtrA in the phytopathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Applied and environmental microbiology 82 (16), 5015-5025

M Williams, MD Hoffman, JJ Daniel, SM Madren, A Dhroso, D Korkin, et. al. 2016. Short-stalked Prosthecomicrobium hirschii cells have a Caulobacter-like cell cycle. Journal of bacteriology 198 (7), 1149-1159.

PJ Friedrichsen, TD Sadler, K Graham, P Brown. 2016. Design of a socio-scientific issue curriculum unit: Antibiotic resistance, natural selection, and modeling. International Journal of Designs for Learning 7 (1).

JJ Daniel, SA Givan, YV Brun, PJB Brown. 2015. Draft genome sequence of Prosthecomicrobium hirschii ATCC 27832T. Genome announcements 3 (6), e01355-15.

MD Hoffman, LI Zucker, PJB Brown, DT Kysela, YV Brun, SC Jacobson. 2015. Timescales and Frequencies of Reversible and Irreversible Adhesion Events of Single Bacterial Cells. Analytical chemistry 87 (24), 12032-12039.

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