Welcome to the Dawson lab


architecture and function of the ventral disc

We investigate mechanism of attachment of Giardia to the intestinal villi by novel MT-based structure termed the “ventral disc”. Our lab employs multiphasic approaches to define the primary structural elements of the ventral disc at high resolution, to identify and analyze disc protein function, and to quantify attachment dynamics and test attachment hypotheses using high resolution live imaging.

Flagellar assembly and division

Giardia has eight flagella organized into four pairs that are critical for motility,cell division and possibly for excystation. We are interested in how (and why) the eight Giardia flagella are uniquely specified in their function. As intraflagellar transport (IFT) is required for flagellar assembly and length maintenance, we are determining if IFT occurs along the entire length of the giardial axonemes (including both the cytoplasmic and membrane-bound portions).

Genomics AND EVOLUTION of free-living protists

Few genomes of free-living microbial eukaryotes are sequenced, despite their critical importance in ecology, evolution, and basic cellular biology. Our lab is also interested in early eukaryotic evolution, and has been involved in the recent sequencing and analysis of the genomes of the free-living amoeboflagellate Naegleria gruberi and diplomonad Spironucleus vortens. We are using genomic approaches to investigate the biology of free-living anaerobic protists and their associations with methanogenic archaea in the bovine rumen.


Giardia cytoskeletal biology and protistan genomics

Our lab is interested in the critical role of the cytoskeleton in the pathogenesis of Giardia intestinalis, a common protozoan parasite



Department of Microbiology

231/237 Briggs Hall

One Shields Avenue

UC Davis

Davis, CA 95616

lab:    (530)-754-7361

office: (530)-752-3633


DawsonLAb News

  1. Bullet Congrats to Marissa Hirst on providing direct evidence for the close association of Thioploca with annamox bacteria in marine sediments!  (also see ScienceDaily and UC Davis News)

  2. Bullet  Congrats to Michael Cipriano who is graduating and starting a postdoc in the lab of Boris Striepen!

  3. Bullet Welcome to Chris Nosala (MGG) who just joined our lab!