WE STUDY THE COMPLEXITY OF MICROBIAL LIFE USING SIMPLIFIED MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES 

Microbes rarely live alone. In the ocean, the soil, and the human body, microbes live within complex, multi-species communities. Yet, due to their complexity, it is often extremely difficult to understand how these communities work. To address this challenge, our lab has taken the approach of using simplified microbial communities as model systems.

The goal of our work is to understand the basic mechanisms that are at play within microbial communities, such as those that drive species interactions, and to identify general principles of community formation.

Our model system of choice is cheese. 

The microbial communities of cheese are relatively simple, easily culturable, rich in species interactions, and undergo reproducible dynamics of community assembly. Our previous work has focused on establishing an experimental system for building, manipulating, and studying these communities in the lab. We are now working to capitalize on this experimental system to identify molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the formation of a microbial community, and to better understand what happens when this process goes wrong.

As a result of our work in this simplified system, we aim to provide the scientific community with hypotheses, tools, and strategies for understanding and manipulating more complex microbial communities. 

The Dutton Lab is located at UC San Diego in beautiful La Jolla, California. We are part of the Section of Molecular Biology, in the Division of Biological Sciences.


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