Interacting microbes are capable of implementing complex functions such as resistant starch degradation in human guts, denitrification of water in wastewater treatment or ABx tolerance in disease-related biofilms.
To better understand and manage microbial functions we require a system-wide analysis of microbial interactions with the aim of exploring the structure-function map of microbial communities. The heterogeneous distribution of ecological roles entails the emergence of keystone species. Such keystones are not only relevant for community persistence, but are also prime targets for improving human health. In my talk I will bridge between cellular and microbial communities giving examples of how insights can be transferred between these distinct biological communities.
Stefanie Widder is a computational biologist at the Department of Microbial Ecology and Ecosystem Research, University of Vienna. She is working on the systems biology of complex communities, in particular microbial consortia and gene regulatory networks. Her research aims at predictive understanding of complex community functions that find application in human health and related fields (Widder et al. ISMEJ 2016).