Apollo Stacy | Bacterial Interactions
Explaining my Research
My research focuses on how communities of different species of bacteria work together. In almost any environment, bacteria are found in mixed groups of hundreds of unique species - a true melting pot! I use bacteria that colonize our mouths to study these communities. These bacteria include several pathogens that can potentially cause severe oral diseases, ultimately resulting in tooth loss. (So, please remember to brush your teeth!) These pathogenic bacteria normally exist at low levels in our mouths and can live there in part due to interactions with other members of the oral bacterial community. To learn how these interactions contribute to oral disease, I am looking at every gene and cellular process important during bacterial growth in mixed communities. I am able to do this due to new DNA sequencing technology that allows me to look at all of the genes important for community growth in a single experiment. Instead of studying only a single gene in a bacterial interaction, I study hundreds of these genes all at once. I test these genes in bacterial communities made up of two or three oral bacteria grown under different conditions, such as with varying amounts of oxygen, on different sources of food, or even inside a mouse. By comparing the genes that are important for growth in these communities rather than in single-species environments, I learn how oral bacteria coexist and thrive together.
How did you become involved with “Present your PhD Thesis to a 12 year-old” project?
I found out about this project through Aimee Wessel, a senior graduate student in my research group. Because Josh works in a lab down the hall from us, I was easily able to introduce myself and, from there, became a member.
What is your goal introducing such a project/topic to young students?
My goals are to make younger audiences more curious about science and to effectively communicate scientific concepts to a broad audience.