All living systems are touched by viruses.
Where one looks for their influence, one will find it –
where one hasn’t yet, a piece of the story remains to be told.
In the Kauffman lab, our focus is on understanding how viruses that infect bacteria interact with their hosts, and how these interactions shape the ecological, evolutionary, and functional properties of bacteria and microbial communities. These viruses that infect bacteria are called bacteriophages, or phages. We use cultivation- and sequencing-based approaches to study phages in the context of microbial communities, with the aim of uncovering the molecular underpinnings of microbial system-level properties.
Current and developing project lines
1. Phages in the oral microbiome: Determining the structure of phage-bacteria interactions in microbial communities in the human oral microbiome, and how and why these differ in health and disease. See here and here for related funded collaborations.
2. Non-tailed phages in the human microbiome: Uncovering the identities and roles of “missing” non-tailed phages in the human microbiome. See here for related prior work.
3. Phage life history strategy: Understanding the diversification of phage life history strategies in microbial communities and revealing the selective forces that shape them.