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Dr Munehiro Asally

Associate Professor


Phone: 024 765 72976

Office: MB17

Twitter: @munelectroLink opens in a new window

Asally Lab webpage

Research Clusters

Quantitative, Systems & Engineering Biology

Microbiology & Infectious disease

Warwick Centres and GRPs

Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre

Warwick Antimicrobial Interdisciplinary Centre

Vacancies and Opportunities

For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Research Interests

Recent advancement in biology has primarily been driven by the reductionist approach of disassembling biological systems into their constituent parts (eg proteins). However, as we understand more about biology, we become more aware of the limitations of the reductionist approach. This is due to the fact that biological systems are dynamic and can exhibit emergent properties that cannot be explained or predicted by studying their constituent parts separately. The Asally lab is part of the growing movement that seeks to gain a better biophysical understanding of cell dynamics and emergent behaviours.

We are interested in developing biophysical technologies and tools for synthetic biology. We are especially interested in how electricity and light can be used to modulate membrane potential and how bioelectrical changes can be used to control gene expression.

Bacillus subtilis, a Gram-positive bacterium, serves as the primary model organism in our experiments. Molecular biology, fluorescence microscopy, time-lapse imaging, quantitative image analysis, and phenomenological modelling are all used in our research. We study electrophysiology, electrical signalling in bacteria, biofilms, and swarming. Our research has been published in prestigious scientific journals such as Nature, PNAS and eLife.

We have a track record of many successful collaborations with active-matter physics, non-linear physics, neuroscience, material science, electrochemistry, organic chemistry and robotic engineering.

Research: Technical Summary

Living systems are commonly perceived to be more unpredictable, softer, and fuzzier than electronics. But how do such behaviours manifest in biological systems? This is the fundamental question I am interested to investigate. We develop new tools for rapid live cell detection and advance our understanding of bacterial signalling by combining molecular-biological, biophysical, and computational approaches.

Live cell detection: We have developed a novel technology that distinguishes between growing and non-growing cells. This technology can be used for detecting live cells for various purposes -e.g. contamination detection, diagnosis of pathogens, and microbial research. To commercialise this technology, we formed a spinout company, Cytecom Ltd.

Bioelectricity and Bio-Electrical Engineering (BEE): Researchers, including us, are revising the view that bioelectrical signalling (such as neural signalling) is exclusive to animals. It has been revealed that even bacteria can use membrane potential dynamics for signalling. We study bacterial electrical signalling. We also develop tools for modulating bacterial membrane potential using electricity and light.

Spores: Bacterial spores are an intriguing form of life that is both living and non-living. They can survive in extreme conditions, such as heat, cold, drought, UV, and even extra-terrestrial space. Understanding spores is important not only for understanding the difference between living and non-living but also for future terraformation. We are particularly interested in the bioelectrical dynamics during the formation of spores and the germination of spores into live-growing cells.

Emergent properties: Emergent behaviour is one of the characteristic features of living systems. Biological systems frequently exhibit behaviours that cannot be fully explained by reductionism. For example, biofilms can withstand lethal antibiotic doses for individual cells. We are interested in understanding and exploiting the collective dynamics of bacterial biofilms and swarms.


For a full list of publications, see WRAP

Google scholar 


  • PhD, Osaka University, Japan, 2007
  • BSc, Osaka University, Japan, 2004
  • BSc, Osaka City University, Japan, 2002

Professional Experiences

  • Associate Professor, University of Warwick, UK, 2019-present
  • Assistant Professor, University of Warwick, UK, 2014-2019
  • Assistant Project Scientist, University of California San Diego, CA, 2012-2014
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Texas Southwestern, TX, 2009-2012
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Osaka University, Japan, 2007-2009