“Statistical Mechanics of Microbial Communities”

Speaker: Robert Marsland, Boston University, Department of Physics

When: February 5, 2018 (Mon), 12:30PM to 01:30PM (add to my calendar)
Location: SCI 328

This event is part of the Biophysics Seminars. 12:30PM.

Microbiomes are complex systems, composed of many different kinds of components that interact strongly with each other and with their environment. This dense network of interdependencies makes it extremely challenging to identify meaningful patterns in observational data and to engineer controlled interventions. Some progress is being made thanks to the ever-growing stream of data from in vivo measurements and from in vitro experiments with natural isolates. But the in vivo data remains difficult to interpret thanks to the abundance of uncontrollable variables, and the in vitro experiments are hampered by the absence of reliable intuition about which parameters are most import to control and useful to measured. To address these challenges, we have developed a framework for rapidly iterating “in silico” experiments, where all the details of the population dynamics are precisely defined and available for analysis. In this talk, I will describe the statistical model that forms the core of this framework, and then show how the diversity of our randomly generated microbial communities depends on parameters like nutrient abundance and crossfeeding rates.