Professor receives $1 million NSF award to study regulation of motility and biofilm formation in bacteria
Should I stay or should I go? This is a common question people ask themselves in their journey through life, but bacteria are also asking the same question.
Zhaomin Yang, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to understand how bacteria decide whether to stay and build a biofilm or to initiate motility and move to new territory.
“Bacterial biofilms profoundly impact our lives and society because they can form on so many surfaces,” said Yang, an affiliated faculty member of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute. “Most acute infections are caused by free-living bacteria, and most chronic infections are associated with biofilm formation in a host. Part of the reason that chronic infections are difficult to treat is because bacterial pathogens in biofilms are more resistant to antibiotics.”
Many may think of bacteria as avid swimmers, with their propeller-like flagella that help them to zoom around in the open ocean, a body of freshwater, or other aqueous environments. But Yang says that this is a misconception for two reasons.
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