Tao Dong, PhD, named Tier II Canada Research Chair in Molecular Ecology of Waterborne Microbes
Outsmart microbes: attack thy shield with thy spear
Waterborne microbes are ubiquitous in water systems used for drinking, recreation and agriculture. Canada and many other countries face increasing demands for water safety, which is threatened by water contamination. Many microbes cause serious infections in humans and animals, and have developed multi-drug resistance that renders current treatment ineffective.
By understanding the mechanisms of how microbes defend themselves and attack others, his research will reveal important gene targets for screening of new antimicrobial compounds. In addition, this research will lead to the development of novel antimicrobial tools, derived from the microbes’ attack machinery, to limit the spread of pathogens and control infections caused by pathogens resistant to antibiotics.
As Canada Research Chair in Molecular Ecology of Waterborne Microbes, Dr. Tao Dong’s main objective is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which microbes survive and persist in the environment. Microbes face various challenges in the environment including different stress conditions, predation by protists, and competition pressure from other bacterial species. As a result, microbes have developed multiple strategies to gain or defend territories and differentiate friends from enemies, which allow them to survive and persist in the environment and be readily transmitted to the host. Dr. Dong is focusing on identifying key gene functions in microbes required for defence and attack. This research will investigate a number of important pathogens including E. coli O157:H7, Vibrio cholerae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.