Integrative Biology 24, Section 2

Reimagining Biology in Light of the Microbiome (1 unit, P/NP)

Professor Britt Koskella
Wednesday 2:00-3:00, 5192 Valley Life Sciences Building, Class number: 23604

We are at an exciting moment in the biological sciences. Every field, from ecology and evolution to molecular biology to medicine, is being reexamined in light of new evidence that the microbiome (the vast array of microbes inhabiting humans and other species) influences how the host develops, what the host eats and metabolizes, how the host acts, and the host's general health. In short, every aspect of biology is fair game for reconsideration through the lens of the microbiome; and this is especially true of the human microbiome given its direct relevance to medicine and human health.

In this course we will examine the new, most exciting data on how the microbiome shapes its host phenotype. We will take a broad view of this idea, covering many systems (including humans, other vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants) and many different microbiome-mediated traits (including disease, behavior, growth, and species interactions). By reading both popular science articles and the primary literature, we will work together to identify the big questions that still need to be addressed and discuss how a research team could test these questions. Who knows, perhaps we will come up with the next great microbiome experiment!

Instructor Bio

Britt Koskella is an associate professor in Integrative Biology, whose work focuses on interactions between bacteria and the viruses that infect them (bacteriophages). She seeks to understand how coevolution between bacteria and phage might influence the health of eukaryotic hosts, such as agriculturally important plant species. She is passionate about her research and strongly believes that a good understanding of evolution and ecology is critical to progress in the medical sciences. Koskella also strongly believes that scientific progress can be made only by embracing diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, and training.

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