Research in the Nobile lab is directed towards understanding the molecular and mechanistic bases of microbial communities. Although microorganisms have traditionally been studied in free-floating (planktonic) cultures or as colonies grown on the surface of nutrient agar plates, it is now accepted that biofilms are the preferred and probably the “natural” state of growth for most microbes. Biofilms, microbial communities of adhered cells that are protected by an extracelllular matrix, have properties that are distinct from their free floating counterparts.
We are interested in investigating how transcriptional networks underlie the regulation of gene expression during the development of a microbial community. Much of this work is carried out in the species Candida albicans, one of the most prevalent fungal pathogens of humans. C. albicans is also a member of normal human microbiota, asymptomatically colonizing several niches of the human body. The lab is also beginning to study interspecies interactions between different fungal and bacterial species.
Questions we are currently pursuing include: How are microbial communities regulated? How are microbial communities built? How are their unique and specialized properties maintained? How have microbial communities evolved?