Sara Smith Rose Hills
Targeted Gene Editing in Cheese-Rind Microbial Community
Microbial communities are ubiquitous and intimately involved in environmental cycles, human health, and industrial processes. Despite the fact that microbes live in diverse microbiomes, much of our knowledge about them comes from studying isolates. This creates gaps in understanding of how microbes interact with each other in communities.
One such interaction is the production of siderophores in low iron environments. Iron is required for essential functions such as respiration and DNA synthesis. Siderophores, small iron chelating molecules excreted into the environment, are the most prevalent method bacteria use to scavenge iron. This process is dependent on community interaction because some microorganisms are able to acquire iron using siderophores produced by a different species. My project will investigate this siderophore “cheating” and its effect on the fitness of members in the microbial community of the cheese rind. This work will be conducted through observational sequence-based approaches as well as perturbing the process genetically. This project aims to increase understanding of community interactions and advance the use of gene editing in microbial communities.