QBio Seminar - Change is the Only Constant in Life

Event Date: 

Monday, February 9, 2015 - 11:00am

Event Location: 

  • KITP Main Seminar Room

Event Contact: 

Change is the only constant in life: unraveling bacterial adaptation dynamics at the single-cell level.

Speaker:

Dr. Guilluame Lambert

Abstract:

Bacteria must constantly process external stimuli in order to thrive in fluctuating environments. An efficient response often involves the use of sophisticated strategies that robustly interpret extracellular signals, a task that necessitates the coordinated expression of many genes. While molecular noise has been established over the past decade as an integral component of information processing in microorganisms, the role of temporal variations, an equally important source of noise in gene expression, is largely unknown. My research investigates the basis of robust gene regulation under environmental noise by combining tools from Physics, Biology and Bioengineering. In particular, to study the behavior of i ndividual bacteria in response to sudden environmental changes, I recently developed a microfluidic device that allows me to not only monitor single E. coli bacteria, but do so for hundreds of generations and under fluctuating conditions. In this talk, I will describe how I used this device to uncover a general class of adaptive memory mechanisms in E. coli bacteria that improve long-term fitness under fluctuating environments. I will also discuss broader applications of my interdisciplinary approach, including how it can be used to 1) quantify the robustness and stability of gene expression in photosynthetic cyanobacteria, and 2) to uncover novel survival strategies that lead to antibiotic resistance and other pathogenic behaviors in bacteria.