Northwestern University

Thu 10:00 AM

BMG Seminar: Synthetic biology in microbial communities - Arthur B. Prindle, PhD

When: Thursday, February 15, 2018
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM  

Where: Robert H Lurie Medical Research Center, Gray Seminar Room, 303 E. Superior, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Beverly Kirk   312.503.5217

Group: Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics Seminar Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings


The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Departmental Seminar Series presents:

Arthur B. Prindle, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics

The cell is the basic unit of life, yet cells often co-exist within multicellular communities where cell-to-cell interactions give rise to complex emergent behaviors. The emergence and evolution of multicellularity remains a fascinating topic from both basic science and biomedical engineering perspectives. In this talk, I will describe several of our recent efforts to understand and engineer multicellular behaviors from the bottom up using microbial communities as a model system. First, I will show how we engineered synchronization of thousands of oscillating colony 'biopixels' over large distances through the use of synergistic intercellular coupling at different length scales. I will then describe how, within natural biofilm communities, a conflict between protection and starvation is resolved through emergence of long-range metabolic co-dependence and collective oscillations. Surprisingly, we found that these oscillations are coordinated via electrochemical signals mediated by potassium ion channels. This discovery revealed an unexpected functional similarity between ion channels in neurons and those in microbes, thereby establishing a prokaryotic paradigm for electrical signaling. Building on this work, I will outline our lab's vision for understanding and engineering multicellular behaviors in a new model system-mitochondrial networks-using the unconventional approach of modeling behaviors in a microbial community of mitochondrial ancestors.

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