Yumi Suh

Identifying Genetic and Metabolic Interactions Between Bacteria

Bacterial communities have been shown to impact everything from geochemical cycles to human health and disease; however, the mechanisms by which natural microbial consortia partition resources and stably maintain cooperative loops of metabolite transfer are very poorly understood. These are incredibly powerful concepts; for example, synthetic communities could represent effective compartments for bioremediation or complex biochemical synthesis. Thus, we propose an exploratory study aimed at developing a genetic interaction map between pairs of model bacteria. Specifically, we will study Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, Zymomonas mobilis ZM4, Desulfovibrio alaskensis G20, and Escherichia coli, among others of interest to environmental remediation or metabolic engineering applications.We are in the process of developing a complete genomic knockout set of our target strains. The functions of many genes are not currently clear, but by pairwise co-culturing our targets, and clarifying growth conditions for viable microbial consortia, we aim to correlate growth phenotypes observed under different environmental conditions to the presence or absence of genes of interest.

Message to Sponsor

The SURF/Rose Hills fellowship has benefited me not only in terms of generously providing financial aid but also in terms of opening the window of opportunity for me to do research without any inhibition. During the summer, I intend to utilize my resources to the best of my ability and for me that means working full time in the lab. I aspire for my research to one-day aid in the creation of viable biofuels that would literally change our world. The research that I am a part has never been done before and if successful it will not only benefit biofuel research, but touch many other sectors in the scientific community. Therefore, I am truly grateful for the chance that Rose Hills Foundation has given me to continue on with my research.
  • Major: Bioengineering
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
  • Mentor: Adam Arkin, Bioengineering