Microbes are everywhere, and they use chemicals to cooperate and compete in fascinating ways. We aim to uncover the molecules and mechanisms that drive interspecies interactions. We then leverage these discoveries to human-centered applications in health and agriculture, and our environment
Our expertise is in HPLC, mass spectrometry, and NMR, and we like to perform some organic synthesis. We develop and perform many biological assays. We also isolate, culture, and genetically study diverse bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and animal cells.
We also love to collaborate with labs that have cool molecular questions about their unique biological systems.
We are currently studying three systems:
Interspecies cooperation and competition between bacteria and fungi
- Antimicrobials, cancer therapies, immunomodulators, and pain treatments
- Microbial “probiotics” for agriculture and the environment
Interspecies signaling between schistosomes, snails, and Capsaspora owczarzaki
photo: Arnau Sebé-Pedrós et al, eLife 2013, 2:e01287
Capsaspora owczaraki is a little known protozoan with big stories to tell. It has a symbiotic relationship with the snail vector of Schistosoma mansoni, (the parasite that causes schistosomiasis). It also shares many cell-cell signaling genes with animals, serving as a link in studying the evolution of animals. We are using chemical methods to understand how Capsaspora responds to chemical signals from its snail host and its co-resident parasite S. mansoni.
- Schistosomiasis therapeutics
- Uncovering how cell-cell signaling evolved and is maintained in animals
Influences of microbial natural products on bacteriophage infectivity
Bacteriophages are viruses that selectively infect bacteria. They have a major impact on bacterial viability in nature, and they are rising as a viable antibacterial strategy in the wake of increased antibiotic-resistant infections. Bacteria and phages have been competing and cooperating for billions of years, and have developed fascinating defenses against each other. We hypothesize that many microbially produced small molecules impact phage infectivity. We seek to discover these molecules and characterize their mechanisms of action. Ultimately, we expect to characterize compounds that could lead to drugs that complement bacteriophage-based antimicrobial therapies.
- Antimicrobials to treat multidrug-resistant bacterial infections
- Precision sculpting of bacterial microbiota in humans, agriculture, and the ecosystem