Seminar by Microbial Ecologist Jonathan Friedman

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Microbial ecologist Jonathan Friedman, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will give a talk about building synthetic microbial communities. Jonathan is at the very forefront of bacterial interactions research.

The talk will be on Friday, February 3rd, at 10.30am in the room 7.0.18 at Kommunehospitalet (ground floor of our building).

Synthetic Ecology: Building Microbial Communities From The Bottom Up

Ecosystems are arguably the most complex but least understood level of biological organization. Microbial communities, composed of numerous interacting species, are of particular importance as they play key roles in numerous application areas, including biotechnology, agriculture, and medicine. In this talk, I will discuss our recent efforts toward developing a predictive understanding of the structure and function of microbial communities. We found that community structure can be well predicted from pairwise interactions in laboratory microbial communities both on short, ecological time scales and on longer, evolutionary time scales when pairwise interactions vary over time. Furthermore, using high-throughput microfluidics, we show that interactions typically change qualitatively across environments, but can be predicted based on the growth abilities of individual species. These findings provide the first step toward “synthetic ecology”—the rational design of and management of microbial communities.

About Jonathan:

I obtained my PhD in computational and Systems Biology from MIT, where I worked with Eric Alm on developing computational methods for analyzing data from the Human Microbiome Project. Following that, I was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT's Physics of Living Systems center, where I combined theory and experiments to predict the structure of simplified microbial communities. In 2017 I opened my lab at the Hebrew University, where we try and decipher the rules that determine the assembly and evolution of microbial communities.