Seminar: Elizabeth Shank, UNC-CH – Biology Department
March 7 @ 3:35 pm - 4:35 pm
UNC-CH Department of Marine Sciences is proud to host a seminar by Elizabeth Shank PhD.
Title: Chemical communication in the soil microbiome
Abstract: In nature, bacteria are rarely found in isolation; they are most often surrounded by other microorganisms. We are interested in understanding how microbes in these complex communities alter their physiology and development in response to the metabolites secreted by their microbial neighbors. To explore these interspecies interactions, we focus on the ability of the bacterium Bacillus subtilis to respond to bacteria from its natural environment, the soil. We use a combination of coculture and fluorescent reporter bioassays to identify microbial interactions and then characterize them using a range of chemical and genetic methods. We are also developing ‘transparent soil’ microcosms to directly visualize how these bacteria use secreted chemical cues to spatially interact with each other and plants in native-like microenvironments. Our goal is to understand the role of microbial signaling in the context of complex microbial communities while identifying novel bioactive compounds that may allow us to rationally manipulate bacterial physiology to our benefit.