I am fascinated by the complexity of microbial communities where many species interact and create spatially organized ecosystems. I believe that the emergence of such structured, complex microbial ecosystems is closely tied to the dynamics and limitations of cellular metabolism. To understand cellular metabolism and its role in the emergence of metabolic interactions, my research group uses ‘synthetic communities’ composed of known species and studies the dynamics of metabolism in each composing species and in the community, and under controlled environmental and spatial settings using both experimental approaches and theoretical models. This integrated approach gives us new insights into how metabolism can drive the formation of symbioses and spatial organization.
To date, my research has helped formalize the idea of developing synthetic microbial communities as experimental model systems to study microbial interactions and provided theoretical models for the emergence of metabolic interactions. By continued development of synthetic model communities and by studying metabolic interactions and spatial organization in them, I hope to further contribute to a better understanding of the emergence and evolution of microbial symbioses in natural habitats.
Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems