The long-term goal of our group is focused on study of microbial responses to environmental signals that facilitate adaptation and survival of bacteria, potentially pathogens, under various stress conditions related with ocean warming and the concomitant spread of diseases caused by pathogenic species.
We have recently used Vibrio harveyi, a marine bacterium, as a model organism to study physiological, morphological and gene expression changes involved in the temperature-dependent adaptation of Vibrio species in seawater microcosms. This study will be expanded in the coming years by analysing the effects of additional stress factors (e.g. salinity and solar radiation) as well as those caused by their combined action along with temperature.
Particular attention will be given to discovery, validation and functional analysis of small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) playing essential regulatory role in bacterial adaptation to stress by using Vibrio harveyi and Escherichia coli as model organisms.
Given the ongoing climate changes that have a direct effect on the recent spread of invasive pathogenic species including those of the genus Vibrio, one of our research lines is aimed at developing new tools enabling to monitor the seasonal presence of Vibrio species by sampling and analysing seawater in different areas of the Biscay Bay. Moreover, the survival model and the potential spread of pathogens will be monitored by using a host-pathogen model system, based on a mussel species widely used in the Basque coast and worldwide as an environmental biomarker.
Thus, apart from addressing important fundamental questions focused on the regulatory mechanisms controlling adaptation of bacteria in their natural environments, our work also provides the opportunity to learn more about the fate and dynamic of Vibrio species in aquatic ecosystems and to predict their possible impact on human life and biosphere in the time of global warming.
How to arrive
- Analysis of seasonal distribution and dynamics of Vibrio spp. populations in the Biscay Bay area
- Analysis of Vibrio spp. adaptation in marine ecosystems
- Discovery of new V. harveyi and E. coli sRNAs and analysis of their regulatory functions
- Development of a host-pathogen model for testing the impact of climate-associated environmental changes on V. harveyi pathogenicity