Microbial Transmission within the Microbiome
My main interest is understanding how microbes (and their genes) are transmitted among individuals and between individuals and their environments. This extends not only to pathogens but also to the commensal organisms that inhabit different human body sites. To this end, I launched the Fiji Community Microbiome Project, which involved surveyed 300 individuals living in small village communities in the Fiji Islands. We surveyed them about their family and social networks, their lifestyles and their health histories, and retrieved microbiome samples of their body sites most exposed to endogenous bacteria and the environments they live in. We're combining single-cell genomics, metagenomics and 16S surveys to investigate some of the major differences between these microbiomes and those in the Human Microbiome Project. Understanding the dynamics and factors that govern endogenous bacterial transmission will enhance our epidemiological knowledge and expand our capacity to use bacteria therapeutically.