Bacteria communicate and cooperate to perform a wide range of multicellular behaviors such as dispersal, foraging, biofilm formation, chemical warfare and quorum sensing. Microbiologists have made huge strides forward, using molecular and genomic approaches, in determining ‘how’ certain behaviors function. Despite this, answers are still lacking to some basic questions, such as ‘why’ do such behaviors evolve? Are they social? How are they maintained in natural populations? What role do they play during infection?
We are interested in the evolution of microbial cooperative behaviors and signaling systems (quorum sensing) and the implications for the evolution of virulence and antibiotic resistance during infection. Our emphasis is on chronic infections such as those found in cystic fibrosis lungs, diabetic ulcers and non-healing wounds. The main organisms that we focus on are the antibiotic resistant superbugs Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.
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Main Findings (our work and collaboration with others)
Social evolution in microbes and quorum sensing
Infection and biofilms