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MIA Talks

Rapid bacterial adaptation within individual human microbiomes

February 7, 2018
Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

We tend to think about human microbiomes as communities of static species. The degree to which individual commensal species functionally change within individual people has remained elusive, as it is difficult to identify de novo mutations from metagenomic data of mixed communities. We have recently discovered that commensal members of our microbiota acquire de novo mutations with strong fitness consequences within individual people. In this talk, I will discuss the challenges with identifying within-person evolution from metagenomics alone, describe how culture-dependent methods enable powerful evolutionary inferences, and touch on the implications of an evolving microbiome for data interpretation and therapy.