Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Robert M Brucker, Ph. D. Candidate at Vanderbilt University

SEM of bacteria from my mouth. Featured in Bare Essentials
I am a 5th year graduate student at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Biological Sciences. Currently I am working on my Ph. D. in animal-microbe interactions and their implications in species formation in the lab of Dr. Seth Bordenstein (lab page, twitter, blog). My work primarily focuses on how coevolutionary processes between a host animal and its microbial community drive new animal species formation.

The world around you is teaming of microorganisms. Each one is striving to survive and each one has the potential to interact with you. There is no guarantee that any given microbe will come in contact with you, most never will - but of the millions of microorganisms that you do come in contact with, what is it that determines if they will affect you? The answer, genetics. Your DNA houses a complex array of genes that interact with  the world around them. They are the determining factor of what microbes can stay and which microbes must go. The genes of the host and the genes of the microorganisms are in a struggle to maintain a proper balance between keeping 'good' microbes thriving in and on our bodies while suppressing the 'bad' microbes.


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