Microbial ecosystems and their metabolic activity play a fundamental but poorly understood role at multiple scales, from human health to biogeochemical cycles. In fact, metabolism, in addition to being the “engine” of every living cell, mediates competition and cross-feeding between different species, and dictates how cells interact with their surrounding environment. In our lab, we use genomic information to build models of the metabolic networks of different microbes, and we perform spatio-temporal simulations of microbial community dynamics. These models provide insight into how metabolic secretions can promote the diversity of natural microbial consortia, and how they can be harnessed for the design of synthetic ecosystems. The ensuing ecosystem-level view of metabolism may also help understand the ancient history of life on our planet.
Recording of Professor Segre's Talk: http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/i4t0h