This conversation was led by Sandra B. Andersen, Associate Professor in the Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics at the University of Copenhagen, and Camille Simonet, PhD Student in Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Microbes have complex social lives, where they can cooperate, cheat and compete within and between species. When these dynamics play out inside our bodies they may affect our health. They presented two approaches to how we can use large sequencing datasets of microbes associated with humans to infer how the organisms interact. This set the scene for a discussion on the potential for manipulating microbial interactions to benefit human health.
Andersen presented her work on the role of microbial interactions during long-term infection, working with whole genome sequencing of isolates of opportunistic pathogens from individuals with cystic fibrosis. Can targeting cooperative traits provide therapies to complement traditional antibiotics? Simonet then presented her work using metagenomics sequencing data for sociomicrobiological research questions. She developed a method to quantify relatedness, which may be a unifying variable upon which to act to explain (and manipulate) microbial behavior.
- Simonet and McNally 2021, “Kin selection explains the evolution of cooperation in the gut microbiota“
- Andersen and Schluter 2021, “A metagenomics approach to investigate microbiome sociobiology“
- Andersen et al. 2015, “Long-term social dynamics drive loss of function in pathogenic bacteria“
- Andersen et al. 2018, “Privatisation rescues function following loss of cooperation“