Rachel J. Dutton, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Division of Biological Sciences
Institution
University of California, San Diego
Address
9500 Gilman Drive
AP&M building, room 3872
City, State, Zip
La Jolla, CA 92093
Phone
(858) 822-5359
E-mail
rjdutton[at]ucsd.edu
Website
http://theduttonlab.com
Research Field
Microbiology
Award Year
2017

Research

Microbes rarely live alone, instead coming together in communities that can contain hundreds of species. Due to the complexity and diversity of these communities, it is difficult to probe the general rules and detailed mechanisms that govern how individual species of microbes interact to form communities. As a Bauer fellow, I was able to grow and reproduce, in a test tube, the simple microbial ecosystems that form the rind of aging cheeses. Using this system as an experimental model, my lab will employ techniques in molecular genetics and metabolic and cell biology to identify the molecules that different bacterial species use to communicate with one another. We will further study how these signals drive the formation, structure, and activity of the community—and how they may render the system susceptible or resistant to invasion by disease-causing bacteria. This work could provide novel strategies for manipulating or disrupting microbial communities, findings that have relevance for human health, agriculture, and biotechnology.