Margaret J. McFall-Ngai



  • Advisory Committee Chair, on leave
  • Humans & the Microbiome


  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology


  • United States


PhD (Biology), UCLA
BS (Biology), University of San Francisco


Margaret McFall-Ngai’s research focuses on how hosts respond to interactions with beneficial microbes.

Her lab uses squids to study questions such as how hosts recognize symbiotic bacteria in the environment and harvest them, and what makes a relationship symbiotic rather than pathogenic. McFall-Ngai’s team is also studying how symbiotic bacteria influence the development of their host, and how both organisms maintain a healthy balance to keep the symbiosis working.


National Academy of Sciences (U.S.), 2014

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2012

Finalist, International Prize (Japan), 2010

Finalist, International Prize (Japan), 2009

Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, 2002

Miescher-Ishida Prize, 2001

Relevant Publications

Kremer, N. et al. "The dual nature of hemocyanin in the establishment and persistence of the squid-vibrio symbiosis." P. Roy. Soc. B 281, no. 1785 (June 2014).

Peyer, S.M. et al. "Eye-specification genes in the bacterial light organ of the bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes, and their expression in response to symbiont cues." Mech. Dev. 131 (February 2014): 111–26.

Koch, E.J. et al. "Features governing long-term persistence in the squid-vibrio symbiosis." Mol. Ecol. 23, no. 6 (March 2014): 1624–1634.

Brennan, C. et al. "A model symbiosis reveals a role for sheathed-flagellum rotation in the release of immunogenic lipopolysaccharide." eLife 4, no. 3 (March 2014).

Koropatnick, T. et al. "Identifying the cellular mechanisms of symbiont-induced epithelial morphogenesis in the squid-vibrio association." Biol. Bull. 226, no. 1 (February 2014): 56–68.

McFall-Ngai, M. et al. The Influence of Cooperative Bacteria on Animal Host Biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.