Interactions between microbes are facilitated by antibiotics and other secondary metabolites (also called “natural products” or “specialized metabolites”). The Stubbendieck laboratory studies how bacteria synthesize and use these metabolites to mediate competition and cooperation within environmental and host-associated microbiomes.
Currently, we are focused on the microbiomes of the human oral and respiratory tracts, including the mouth, nose, and lower airways in individuals with cystic fibrosis. To characterize how secondary metabolites function in these systems, we take an interdisciplinary approach that integrates traditional microbiology, genomic and metagenomic sequencing, genetics, and natural product chemistry. Our long-term goals are to better understand the ecological and mechanistic functions of specialized metabolites in microbiomes and to identify potential avenues for the development of therapeutics.