Role of Higher-Order Interactions for Stability of Microbial Communities

2015 - presentpresent

This project builds upon the novel insight that the counteraction between antibiotic production and antibiotic inactivation can lead to diversity maintenance in microbial communities interacting through antibiotics. We use mathematical modeling and simulations to investigate the evolutionary consequences of this mechanism and the patterns of diversity that arise through it. We are also studying experimentally multi-species laboratory communities composed of species with diverse antibiotic production and inactivation/degradation abilities. Finally, we use the experimental data to build mathematical models that can predict dynamics in multi-species communities based on knowledge of microbial interactions. We will also test experimentally model-based predictions, thus implementing a feedback loop between modeling and experiments. We will additionally advance our understanding of diversity generation in natural environments in which antibiotic inhibition is important, provide a novel experimental platform for studying interaction-rich multi-species communities in the lab, and advance our ability to engineering communities of different complexity and dynamics based on knowledge of interactions.