The School of Biological Sciences Spring 2024 Seminar Series presents Dr. Ryan Hunter

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Bacterial infections associated with chronic airway disease (cystic fibrosis, COPD, sinusitis) are composed of complex polymicrobial communities that incite persistent inflammation and airway damage.  Despite the surge in studies characterizing the composition of airway microbiota, a lack of effective therapeutics remains due to our limited understanding of how bacterial species interact with one another in vivo, how they adapt to the airway microenvironment, and their co-evolution over time. For example, nutrient sources that sustain bacterial growth in vivo are poorly understood. We have examined the role of airway mucus in shaping the ecophysiology of the cystic fibrosis lung microbiota. Despite mucins (the major macromolecular constituent of mucus) representing an abundant pool of bioavailable carbon, surprisingly, we have discovered that canonical airway pathogens (e.g. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus) inefficiently use mucins on their own. However, anaerobic “commensal” bacteria, more commonly associated with the oral cavity but found in abundance in airway mucus, can cross-feed and stimulate the growth and virulence of airway pathogens by degrading mucins and liberating nutritional byproducts. In this seminar, I will present our recent work supporting a keystone role of oral microbes in the development of chronic lung infections, a central role of mucin degradation and fermentation in CF pathogen colonization, and outside-the-box half-baked ideas for airway disease management.

Hosted by Marvin Whiteley


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  • Created By:rbailey74
  • Created:04/11/2024
  • Modified By:rbailey74
  • Modified:05/09/2024