Ferrer, Daniel (2015-2017)

Daniel is in the Immunity, Microbes & Molecular Pathogenesis home area of the MBIDP.  He joined the CMB training program in 2015.  His research mentor is Dr. Wenyuan Shi.  He received a B.S. degree in 2014 from The College of New Jersey.

Mentor: Dr. Wenyuan Shi

Research project:

The human body harbors an incredibly diverse variety of bacterial species. Both the oral and gut microbial flora greatly affect the host’s health both positively and negatively. Most research focuses on the negative impact of the body’s flora, however, I am interested in the equally important positive side. The body’s microbial communities have metabolic, trophic, and protective functions that we often ignore. Just as our immune system protects us from infection and illness, these microbial communities that settled in our niches have mechanisms of their own to detect and eliminate invaders before they create a foothold. Recently, we have determined that three bacterial species play the role of gatekeepers and respond to the presence of E. coli, a representative gut bacteria, by increasing production of hydrogen peroxide, killing the invader. Each species play a different role in this “invasion resistance” phenomenon. Staphylococcus saprophyticus is the “sensor” that recognizes E. coli and sends a diffusible signal to the “mediator”. The “mediator”, Streptococcus infantis, normally repressed the “killer’s”, Streptococcus sanguinis, hydrogen peroxide production. However, when S. infantis receives a signal from S. saprophyticus it de-represses and activates the hydrogen peroxide production of S. sanguinis. I am interested in the molecular mechanisms involved in the communication between these bacteria. I am investigating what signals are sent between the “sensor” and “mediator” as well as what genes are involved in regulating the production of hydrogen peroxide.