NSF Supports Research to Study how Bacterial Antagonism Impacts Biofilms

Bacteria often inhabit biofilms, microbial consortia composed of densely packed cells embedded in a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances and often attached to a surface. Because biofilms are densely packed, cell death and reproduction hold emergent materials consequences. When a cell dies and lyses, the biofilm structure may partially 'cave-in;' and when a cell reproduces, it pushes other cells out of its way. These cellular processes create a dynamic process where death and reproduction modify biofilm structure; and structural changes impact subsequent death and reproduction. 

The National Science Foundation has just awarded Peter Yunker and two co-principal investigators a three-year grant to study cell death within biofilms that is mediated by microbial antagonistic interactions - killing. Understand the dynamics of inter-microbial aggression will help elucidate the ecological role of bacterial antagonism.

Peter Yunker is an assistant professor in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech. Yunker’s collaborators are Steve Diggle and Brian Hammer, both associate professors in the Georgia Tech School of Biological Sciences. 

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