Environmental Microbiology Research Initiative (EMRI) seminar triple bill
Three Microbiology Academics recently appointed in the School of Biological Sciences, Monash University will deliver 30 min presentations in an extended-time seminar.
Dr Jeremy J. Barr - Bacteriophage interactions with eukaryotic epithelial surfaces
Bacterial viruses are amongst the most numerous biological entities within the human body. Despite the prevalence of these viruses throughout our bodies, the extent of their interactions with human cells, organs and immune system is still largely unknown. Here I will discuss indirect and direct interactions between bacteriophages and epithelial cells and surfaces. Bacteriophages (phages for short) physically interact with the mucosal surfaces lining our lungs, gut, and urinary tract and form a non-host-derived layer of immunity that actively protects mucosal surfaces from bacterial infection. Once past the mucosal layer these phages are capable of direct interactions with epithelial cells. In vitro studies demonstrate the rapid and directional transcytosis of diverse phages across confluent cell layers originating from across the body.
Dr Chris Greening - Living on thin air: a minimalistic strategy for the survival of soil microorganisms
The mechanisms that the “dormant microbial majority” use to remain energised in soil systems have long remained elusive. This seminar will describe how atmospheric trace gases molecular hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO) serve as alternative energy sources for dormant bacteria. Genetic and biochemical studies demonstrated that carbon-starved mycobacterial cells persist following carbon starvation by aerobically respiring these gases. Pure culture studies have shown that isolates of at least four dominant soil phyla, i.e. Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, Chloroflexi, and Verrucomicrobia, can survive through equivalent mechanisms. A combination of genomic surveys and environmental studies suggest these processes are active in global surface soils. New evidence will be presented that atmospheric trace gases are particularly important for primary production in desert ecosystems. These findings in turn have implications for understanding microbial community structure, biogeochemical cycling, and bacterial dormancy.
Dr Mike McDonald - Sex, adaptation and diversification in experimental microbial populations
Experimental evolution is a powerful method for testing fundamental questions in evolution and ecology. I will present recent work showing how high-throughput sequencing methods can provide insights into a classic problem in evolutionary biology, the evolution of sex, as well as eco-evolutionary dynamics in experiment populations of E. coli (the Lenksi LTE) and yeast. Currently, our understanding of the evolution and ecology of natural communities comes from the “top down” approaches to community ecology and metagenome sequencing. Although experimental evolution has the potential to contribute, most microbial evolution experiments are in laboratory settings far removed from the actual conditions that microbes in the wild would experience. My work seeks to connect these two fields so that the mechanistic insights possible in the lab are applied in experimental settings that better approximate natural and clinical environments.
Dr Mike McDonald, Monash University
Dr Mike McDonald
Mike completed his Bachelor and Master’s degrees (both in Genetics) at Otago University in New Zealand. After a few years travelling, Mike commenced a PhD under Paul Rainey at Auckland and Massey Universities where he used Pseudomonas fluorescens as an experimental model of evolutionary genetics. Mike’s first Postdoc was at Academia Sinica in Taiwan, where he learned Yeast genetics while working with JunYi Leu. Mikes second Postdoc was at Harvard University where, working with Michael Desai at the FAS Center for Systems Biology, he used whole genome sequencing and highthroughput methods to investigate the dynamics of adaptation in Yeast and E. coli. Mike is currently a Group Leader in the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University and a recent ARCFuture Fellow recipient. https://www.mcdonaldlab.com/
Dr Chris Greening, Monash University
Dr Chris Greening
Chris studied Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at the University of Oxford before heading down under to complete his PhD in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Otago. Completed in 2013, his doctoral research focused on unravelling the physiological roles of the enzymes responsible for H2 metabolism in environmental and pathogenic mycobacteria. He subsequently gained postdoctoral experience in Microbial Ecology and Molecular Evolution at the University of Otago, CSIRO, and the Australian National University. Chris joined Monash University as a lecturer in June 2016 and was awarded an ARC DECRA Fellowship in November 2016. Chris’ research group, the Integrative Microbiology Lab, explores the metabolic strategies through which microorganisms persist under adverse environmental conditions. His environmental research explores the ecophysiology of organisms responsible for the cycling of atmospheric gases, i.e. hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. His medical research is centred on identifying new drug targets for tuberculosis, with a focus on mycobacterial redox homeostasis. Chris’ group employs a wide range of techniques to explore biological processes from enzymes to ecosystems, including bacterial culturing, genetic dissection, protein biochemistry, and environmental surveys. http://www.greeninglab.com/
Dr Jeremy J. Barr, Monash University
Dr Jeremy J. Barr
Jeremy completed his PhD in 2011 at The University of Queensland working in wastewater microbial ecology and biofilm formation. He then moved to San Diego State University where he completed a 5 year postdoctoral position with Prof. Forest Rohwer investigating the role of bacteriophages in mucosal surfaces. Recently he has moved back to Australia and joined the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University as a DECRA fellow. His research program uses a range of cross disciplinary techniques to investigate both fundamental and mechanistic bacteriophage biology, with an emphasis on the role bacteriophages play in the human body. https://thebarrlab.org/