My talk, entitled “The Interplay between Chemicals and Microbiomes: An Environmental Biotechnology Perspective” was given for the first time at ASU last week, and it has been videotaped (watch below) so others can see it. This talk, which is one of two talk options offered to host schools, seems to overlap well with much of the work ongoing at ASU. My talk explores examples of how chemicals are transformed by microorganisms and suggests that the byproducts generated by microbial biodegradation may be more harmful (or at least as harmful) as the parent compound. I conclude by suggesting that we pay more attention to transformation products and their impact. My talk also explores how chemicals influence microorganisms, beyond simple inhibition. This work is based on long standing efforts by my group and collaborators to understand stress responses elicited by bacteria in response to sub-lethal levels of chemical stressors, and how these stressors affect both the structure and function of complex microbial communities. Throughout my talk, I highlighted the importance of bringing in collaborators from other disciplines who allowed my students and me to dive more deeply into answering our questions using unique, interesting and proven methods. My goal is to emphasize to students and early career faculty the importance of investing in strong interdisciplinary relationships.
In the end, I was very happy with my visit to the Swette Center and the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. And I picked the perfect week to visit since the weather was beautiful, and several inches of snow fell on Ann Arbor during the week! Many thanks to Bruce and others involved.
- Nancy Love