Research

Research by GeMS-associated investigators focuses on the Genomics of Microbial Evolution, Experimental Microbial Genomics and Genomics of Complex Microbial Communities. Investigators in the Center apply Next Generation sequencing tools to explore microbial genomic evolution and diversity in natural populations or under experimental conditions in the laboratory.

GeMS provides bioinformatics and computational support for microbial scientists through the GeMS Bioinformatics Group which includes Olaf Mueller, PhD, and Josh Granek, PhD. The GeMS Bioinformatics Group is outfitted with workstations and server space suitable for large sequencing projects. Click here to learn more about these services.

Genomics of Microbial Evolution
GeMS investigators explore the evolution of bacterial and fungal diversity, and the emergence of virulence and symbiosis.  Research in this area is focused on comparative genomics and population genetics to determine what evolutionary processes shape genomes to adapt to complex environments including mutualistic associations, pathogenesis or new environmental niches.  This area of research also explores the basic natures of speciation, sex determination, and evolution in fungal genomes.

Experimental Microbial Genomics
GeMS investigators apply next generation DNA sequencing tools to understand microbial gene function by monitoring genetic polymorphisms among closely related species or as a result of experimental manipulation, to ultimately link these variations to defined phenotypic traits. Research areas includes developing methods to assess the effect of variation in genetic networks among related microbial species in providing plasticity to environmental sensing and signaling outputs, to systems-based approaches to understand gene regulatory networks in archeal extremophiles, to performing genome wide association studies in “genetically-intractable” obligate intracellular bacteria, and to engineering synthetic microbial communities. In addition, work is also focused on experimental manipulation of components of microbial communities to determine the relative contribution of individual species to the health of animal hosts.

Genomics of Complex Microbial Communities
GeMS investigators are interested in exploring the dynamic structure and functions of microbial communities associated with diverse ecological sites.  This includes microbial communities associated with marine and freshwater aquatic environments, insects, and vertebrate hosts.