Event Date and Time
Raghuveer Parthasarathy, University of Oregon
In any ecosystem, the physical structure of the landscape and the activities of its resident organisms influence one another. This holds in the vertebrate gut as well, where legions of microbes cooperate, compete, and influence both normal and disease-related functions of their hosts. In intestinal ecosystems, however, we know little about the spatial structure, bacterial behaviors, and physical forces present, severely limiting our ability to understand and eventually engineer the gut flora. To address this, my lab applies light sheet fluorescence microscopy to a model system that combines an in vivo environment with a high degree of experimental control: larval zebrafish with defined sets of bacterial species. I will describe this approach and experiments that have revealed how a species can manipulate intestinal mechanics to facilitate invasion, how antibiotics can alter the dynamics of aggregation and cause collapses in gut populations, and more. In all these cases, the physical structure of the microbiome emerges as a major determinant of its dynamics. The animal-associated microbiome, I claim, is an enticing frontier for biophysics. I will also briefly comment on the utility of light sheet microscopy for studies of non-living soft matter and biomaterials.