Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Abby Wang Rose Hills

Optimizing the Efficiency of Microbial Gene Editing in Communities

Microbiome editing is an emerging field that enables the genetic modification of bacteria within complex microbial communities and is a promising approach to tackle many scientific and technological questions in microbiology. The Rubin Lab developed a plasmid-based gene-editing tool (DART), encoding CRISPR-associated transposons (CASTs) capable of making species- and site-specific edits in a bacterial community. While DART can efficiently make targeted edits in model bacteria, the editing efficiency remains low across phylogenetically diverse bacteria, thus limiting the range of targets for community editing. Our current research used a genome-wide mutant screen in E.coli to identify several regulators important for CAST transposition that, when included on the editing vector, increased the editing efficiency of DART. Building on this work, my project will leverage identified regulators and determine their ability to increase the editing efficiency of DART in non-model bacteria and bacterial communities. The results of this project will improve community editing efficiency, a crucial step towards targeting microorganisms in situ and translating the work to microbiome settings.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you for funding my summer research! I am very grateful and excited for the opportunity to continue my research projects this summer--your support allows me to pursue my passions in microbiology and genetics while continuously building on my current skills and knowledge. I look forward to an exciting summer of collaborative work and growth as I pursue my goal of optimizing microbial community editing.
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology and Data Science
Mentor: Ben Rubin
Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
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