Prof. Ben Ross
Dartmouth Interbacterial antagonism and defense in Bacteroidales
Meeting ID: 825 7996 3468
The bacterial residents of the gut impact human health. The specific makeup of these bacterial communities can differ dramatically between people, yet how these differences arise is not understood. Our research combines computational analyses with experimentation to generate unique insights into the forces that sculpt the inhabitants of the human gut, through the lens of interbacterial antagonism and defense. We focus on the type VI secretion system (T6SS) encoded by Bacteroidales. The Bacteroidales T6SS mediates inter- and intra-species competition in the gut. We have discovered a novel defense mechanism widely distributed in Bacteroidales genomes, which we call the recombinase-associated acquired interbacterial defense (rAID) system. The rAID system appears to aggregate “orphan” immunity genes that protect against intoxication by effector proteins translocated via the Bacteroidales T6SS, yet how and in what contexts rAID systems acquire new genes is still a mystery. Our current work is aimed at developing new in vitro assays and metagenomic datasets that will provide insight into rAID system dynamics. Through this work we hope to uncover important molecular mechanisms that determine the strain-level composition of the human gut microbiota.