Host-microbe interactions, microbial community dynamicsResearch in the Hunter lab is focused on host-microbe interactions and seeks to characterize the effect of in vivo environmental chemistry on the dynamics of polymicrobial infections. While recent culture-independent studies have provided a comprehensive survey of the host microbiome and its association with health and disease, there is a major gap in our understanding of the environmental conditions under which pathogens live, how and why they adapt to specific niches within the host, and how microbe-environment relationships co-evolve throughout the course of infection. Our research combines molecular genetics, environmental chemistry, high-resolution microscopy (in situ hybridization and cryo-electron microscopy) and culture-independent approaches to address these ecological questions. The long-term goal is to gain a better understanding of disease etiology, predictors of clinical outcomes, and novel avenues for antimicrobial therapy. We are primarily interested in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and its co-habitants in microbial communities of chronic respiratory infections (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sinusitis, and cystic fibrosis).
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