PhD Program in Molecular Biology, entered in 2015
I am a sixth year graduate student in the Molecular Biology PhD Program and am working with Prof. Bassler. Quorum sensing (QS) is a cell-to-cell communication process that bacteria use to control collective behaviors. QS involves the production, release, and group-wide detection of extracellular signal molecules called autoinducers (AIs). QS allows bacteria to monitor their cell numbers, alter gene expression on a population-wide scale, and synchronously execute community behaviors. In nature, bacteria frequently live in environments containing multiple species. Therefore, QS bacteria must encounter mixtures of AIs that are produced by themselves and by other, neighboring, bacterial species. By co-culturing different Vibrio species, I am interested in how bacteria integrate information in autoinducer mixtures. Understanding QS regulation of V. harveyi in the presence of other bacterial species will provide insight into how it uses QS to produce niche-specific behaviors in its native environment.