The NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series
Pathogenic bacteria are most often studied in the context of the disease they cause on their human host. Yet, many such pathogens spend much of their existence in environments outside the host. Are there ecological roles for some virulence factors? What genomic sequences are selected for in the environment? As an initial approach to answer these questions our laboratory is carrying out experiments on fungal-bacterial interactions, focussing on the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These experiments, along with comparative genomic studies, have revealed that widely conserved genes that encode mammalian virulence factors are involved in antogonistic interactions with microbial eukaryotes.