characterizing Natural isolates
We are using the 100-genomes collection, which contains environmental isolates from ecological niches as varied as industrial fermentations, woodlands, and clinical settings, to study biofilm formation, quorum sensing, and toxin production in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Natural variation can provide insight into the selective pressures in the environment.
For example, this figure shows the distribution of pseudohyphal growth in the 100-genomes collection in three different environmental conditions.
We are using stochastic, individual-based simulations to investigate how non-motile cells with different social strategies influence each other and affect the distribution of cell types in a microbial community. Current simulations are testing: (1) the role of kin recognition in these communities, and (2) the conditions in which a strain that has inducible production of a lethal toxin can infiltrate, destabilize, and disrupt a biofilm.
Cells from two genotypes are randomly placed in the center of a grid and allowed to grow based on the rules of the simulation. In this case, the green genotype has completely dominated the community.
NSF EAGER: Investigating a Trojan Horse strategy to disrupt Saccharomyces biofilms (Role: PI)
Jeffress Trust Awards Program in Interdisciplinary Research: Exploring the evolutionary and molecular dynamics of mixed biofilms to disrupt their stability (Role: PI; with co-PI Leah Shaw)