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Measurements for Microbial Ecology


Because of the complexity of microbial communities, we are working to develop measurements that will enable more reproducible design and control over of such communities.


Microbes exist in complex environments and mixed microbial populations, whether as a clinical biofilm, soil sample, or on a dirty frying pan. Reproducibly recreating these complex communities and their ecology requires an understanding of how individual cells and different strains of microbes interact. Using confined communities in microfabricated devices, we aim to develop measurements regarding the interactions of the cells, how these populations evolve over time, and what is the distribution of these measurements in various populations. High-throughput imaging complimented with genomic analyses and metabolic profiling will lead to enhanced capabilities of defining and designing complex microbial systems.

S Mutans SEM image, in the process of forming complex networks.

Scanning electron microscopy image of Streptococcus mutans cells in the process of forming complex networks.

Credit: Heidi Leonard at Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, NIST
Created February 3, 2020, Updated February 14, 2020