I am interested in microbial communities and the interactions within.
Throughout my PhD I focused on the molecular basis and regulatory processes underlying interspecies interactions, namely competition, in the context of biofilms. I further explored how such competitive interactions affected population dynamics as well as their role in the probiotic effect in an in vivo model we developed using gnotobiotic Zebrafish.
During my first post doc my research focused on intraspecies interactions from an evolutionary perspective using the social bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. More specifically, i have addressed (i) the origin of kin discrimination (the ability to discern self and non-self), (ii) adaptation mechanisms of motile versus non motile organisms, and (iii) the mechanisms maintaining diversity across different social groups.
In the GEM lab, I am developing a multidisciplinary project integrating molecular microbiology, population biology, macro- and micro- evolution using Klebsiella pneumoniae as a model. I aim to
- Quantify the short-term fitness and metabolic costs of capsule production by generating a panel of capsule null mutants and assessing their competitive index against their capsulated variant, and we will correlate this with capsule thickness and expression levels of genes involved in its production and secretion.
- Understand how capsules affect bacterial adaptation to new environments through hundreds of generations (micro-evolution). I undertook a mid-term evolution experiment and I am currently analysing how the populations adapted the mutations that emerged through time across the different environments and compare them to those observed in natural populations.
- Determine the impact of the different serotypes in Klebsiella genome evolution and the interplay between the capsule and mobile genetic elements..