EMERGENCE AND EVOLUTION OF BACTERIAL PATHOGENS
Our primary scientific interest lies at the interface between ecology and pathogenesis. The lab’s work focuses on the emergence and evolution of pathogenic bacteria. We investigate how environmental factors affect their pathogenic potential, which genetic traits are prerequisites in colonizing a new niche such as the human host, how they acquire and regulate virulence genes, and what are their ecological relationships with other members of their natural environment.
We study members of the family Vibrionaceae, a highly diverse group of marine bacteria that includes from symbionts to human pathogens. In particular, we work extensively with Vibrio cholerae, the etiological agent of the severe diarrheal disease cholera. V. cholerae has a complex life cycle which includes numerous hosts and reservoirs. Interestingly, only a handful of V. cholerae strains cause the disease. Due to its peculiar lifestyle and the confined phylogenetic nature of its pathogenic isolates, V. cholerae is an attractive model for the study of pathogen emergence and evolution.