Senior Scientists: Gary Borisy, Rudolf Oldenbourg, Mitchell Sogin
Assistant Research Scientist: Jessica Mark Welch Microscopy Support Coordinator: Louis Kerr Research Assistant I: Christopher Rieken Brown-MBL Graduate Students: Yuko Hasegawa, Alex Valm
The combinatorial imaging group is developing microscopybased techniques to observe microbial diversity and study the composition of microbial communities. We employ a technology known as spectral imaging, which allows the discrimination of as many as 10 to 15 different kinds of fluorescent molecules. These fluorophores are used to label DNA probes specific to the genomes of different kinds of microbes.
With funding from the Sloan Foundation we are working to develop methods for using multiple fluorophores in combinations, in an effort to greatly increase the number of different targets that can be simultaneously identified in a single sample. In a test of this technology applying all of the probes to the bacterium E. coli, we are able to simultaneously detect and identify 28 different populations in a single image.
The group combines the strengths of the Bay Paul Center, with experience in metagenomic analysis of natural microbial communities and state-of-the-art DNA sequencing facilities, and the Architectural Dynamics in Living Cells program, with experience pushing the limits of microscopy. As the technique becomes further developed, we plan to apply it to natural populations of microbes, such as those found in the environment and those that live in and on the human body.