The Guttman laboratory integrates evolutionary, comparative and functional approaches to understand how bacteria acquire and maintain the ability to infect and cause disease in a diversity of hosts, and how microbial communities influence the health and function of their plant and animal hosts.
A major focus of the group is to understand how bacterial host specificity and virulence evolves. We are particularly interested in identifying the genetic determinants of host specificity, deducing the evolutionary processes that drive the diversification of these factors, and functionally determining how these factors influence the course and fate of host-pathogen interactions. Our long-term goals are to decipher both the specific molecular mechanisms of disease, as well as the evolutionary and ecological forces which govern the long term dynamics of these important processes.
A second major focus of the Guttman laboratory is to study the structure and dynamics of microbial communities (the microbiota) associated with both plants and animals. We are particularly interested in how the microbiota influences, or is influenced by the progression of genetic and autoimmune diseases in humans, and what factors determine the community composition of the plant-associated microbiota and how this community influences plant health and immunity.
Much of the work done in the Guttman laboratory concentrates on the agriculturally important plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae, and the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The work is heavily dependent on state-of-the-art genomic technologies, high-throughput data generation and bioinformatics. The projects also frequently involve close collaboration with other academic scientists, as well as agricultural and medical researchers.