Dmitri Mavrodi, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
I am a molecular microbiologist who is interested in the ecology of antibiotic-producing and plant-associated bacteria. The first line of my research is focused on the functional role of natural antibiotics. It has long been assumed that the primary function of these metabolites is to directly suppress competitors and yield a survival advantage to the producing bacteria in highly competitive natural and man-made environments. Recent studies suggest that antibiotics may promote virulence, protect bacteria from predation by protozoa, and act as molecular signals that regulate colony morphology and biofilm formation. However, most of these functions have been studied only under lab conditions and in a handful of bacterial strains. I use molecular techniques to better understand the ecological role of antibiotics in both pathogenic and beneficial bacteria in the context of microbial communities. The second line of my research is focused on beneficial plant root colonizing (rhizosphere) bacteria. These microorganisms play an important role in nature by protecting wild and crop plants from soilborne pathogens. They also stimulate nutrient uptake and organ development thus enhancing the ability of plants to resist abiotic stress factors. We have sequenced the genomes of several species of rhizosphere Pseudomonas bacteria. We plan to use tools of molecular genetics, functional genomics, and bioinformatics to identify cellular pathways and physiological responses that allow these beneficial rhizobacteria to maintain tight mutualistic interactions with the host plant under the conditions of environmental stress.
Selected recent publications: