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Shaping of microbial communities by bacteria and phage interactions

Defense systems

We are interested in the molecular and structural characterization of anti-phage bacterial defence systems. Currently we are particularly interested in membrane-associated defence.

antidefence systems

We study phage anti-defence mechanisms and are currently working on the characterization of the smallest anti-CRISPR protein known to date and of a prophage-encoded Cas protein that interferes with the bacterial CRISPR defence. 

defense & anti-defence systems in natural environments

We investigate the role of defence and anti-defence systems in natural environments (e.g. biofilms, gut). In particular, we are interested in the following questions: what is the real impact of defence systems in natural environments? Is protection given by defence systems as important in biofilms as in planktonic bacteria? Can we identify defence systems expressed exclusively in a biofilm state? Are there links between biofilm and defence system regulation?

mobilization of defence systems in bacterial populations

We study the mobilization of defence systems in planktonic and biofilm bacterial populations.

Modulation of bacterial metabolism by phages

mechanisms of metabolic modulation

We investigate the mechanisms used by phages to hijack the bacterial metabolism in immediate and delayed forms. Currently we are looking into phage proteins that interfere with specific metabolic pathways, in particular those involved in biofilm formation and dispersal. These proteins find multiple biotechnological and medical applications. 

Phage-mediated changes in bacterial metabolism and human health

Dysbalance of the gut microbiome can lead to important cardio-metabolic disorders. The compostion of the gut microbiome is affected by multiple factors, among which phages. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an established treatment for Clostridium difficilis infections, and an experimental therapy for other gut diseases like colitis, IBS, and even Parkinson. In collaboration with Dr. Hilde Herrema from Amsterdam Medical Center in the Netherlands, we are investigating the role of phages in FMT success using virome (phage) transplantations.

phages in localized gut microbial communities

The gut is not a homogeneous environment, and as such the distribution of bacteria and phages can be variable. We are studying phage distribution and residence time in different sections of the gut, their influence on the establishment of localized microbial communities (e.g. microcolonies), and their impact on human health, particularly on glucose metabolism in the gut.  

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