Science at the Edge Seminar

Speaker:  Jeff Gore, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Title: A Bottom-up Approach to Microbial Community Assembly

Refreshments at 11:15 am.

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Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2017, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Type: Seminar

Location: 1400 BPS Bldg.

Microbes exist in complex, multi-species communities with diverse interactions that play an essential role in both human health as well as the health of the planet. Over the last decade tremendous progress has been made in characterizing these communities, but the lack of experimentally tractable model systems has made it difficult to discern the rules governing microbial community assembly and function. In this talk I will describe our recent experimental efforts to develop a bottom-up approach to understanding the dynamics of these communities. We have begun by quantifying the network of pairwise competitive outcomes among species within a model microbial community. We find that simple assembly rules incorporating just these pairwise competitive outcomes are surprisingly successful in predicting the outcome of multi-species competition in multiple environments as well as within the gut of the worm, indicating that higher-order interactions among species can often be neglected. These results are a first step towards a bottom-up approach of predicting the emergent behavior within complex multi-species communities.