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Microbial Facebook: Probing bacterial social behaviors during infection

Dr. Marvin WhiteleyDr. Marvin Whiteley, John Ring LaMontagne Chair in Infectious Diseases and Global Health in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas at Austin, will present a Distinguished Lecture in Microbiology entitled “Microbial Facebook: Probing bacterial social behaviors during infection” at 3:00 pm on Thursday, March 19, in 116 Pearson Hall.

Dr Whiteley's Lab is focused on the social lives of bacteria. Currently they are utilizing new technologies combined with classical genetic techniques to address questions about microbial physiology, ecology, virulence, and evolution. In particular they are working on tackling the following questions:

  • How do bacteria communicate?
  • How do polymicrobial interactions impact physiology and virulence?
  • How do bacteria evolve in the host?
  • How do nutrients available at infection sites impact behavior and virulence?

In collaboration with the J.B Shear lab at UT Austin, they are using multiphoton lithography and confocal microscopy to study small microbial communities in "bacterial lobster traps" that often mimic the sizes of populations observed in nature more accurately than traditional, dense batch culture techniques. With the UT Genome Sequencing and Analysis Facility and the Texas Advanced Computing Center they are harnessing high-throughput sequencing methods including RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) and transposon sequencing (Tn-Seq).

After receiving his undergraduate degree in Zoology at UT Austin, Dr. Whiteley earned an MS in Biology at Texas State University, and his PhD in Microbiology at the University of Iowa. Following his postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, he received an appointment as an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma/Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.  Dr Whiteley returned to UT Austin in 2006, where he is currently a Professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences.

Dr. Whiteley is a member of several professional societies and editorial boards, and has served as the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Division D chair, President of the Texas Branch ASM, and as a branch lecturer for ASM. He has received many awards and academic honors, including: Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences (USA), Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease, Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award, and Dean’s teaching excellence award, UT-Austin.

This Distinguished Lecture in Microbiology is sponsored by the Department of Microbiology and is free and open to the public.