Social interactions and population structure

Main area:Microbiology
Target group:Biology, Bioinformatics, Molecular Biomedicine
Educational level:Masters
Project description:

In the natural environments bacteria live side by side and interact in both synergistic and antagonistic ways. They cooperate and compete in a complex network of interactions, and it is hypothesized that this network is not random, but is correlated with the bacteria present in the specific environment and the niches of the interacting bacteria.

The main focus of the project will be to test if there is extensive inhibition between bacteria isolated from the same microenvironments or if they rather inhibit strains from other environments. The former could be due to for example nutrient competition between individual cells and rampant mixing of populations, while the latter could be due to prior selection and a more stable co-existence. First step will be to isolate bacterial strains from an environment of choice; all the strains have to be isolated from the same microenvironment, and the initial part of the project will probably be an optimization of this. Subsequently, it can be tested which isolates inhibit each other and the specificity of this inhibition.

The project can provide important knowledge on the social evolution of bacteria, but can also be interesting in a clinical and biotechnological perspective, since the experiments can reveal the potential of natural isolates as an alternative to the problematic broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Supervisors: Søren J Sørensen:
                     Mette Burmølle:

Project home page:
Supervisor(s):  Søren J. Sørensen og Mette Burmølle