Principles of community development within the gut microbiome


  • Dr Katharine Coyte

    University of Oxford

Project summary

The human gut contains a diverse community of microbes that are crucial for our health, yet how these communities are acquired and develop is relatively unknown.

I aim to build a mathematical and experimental system to better understand what determines how these microbial communities develop. I will build a set of mathematical models that describe how microbes interact with one another and respond to environmental changes. These models will be used to simulate different microbial communities in order to study how different factors affect community development. I will also use different theoretical and experimental techniques in order to study the acquisition and development of microbial communities in newborns. I will use the mathematical models to make predictions about how these communities develop, which I will then test in mice. This will give insight into both the specific features of newborn microbial communities and the broader drivers of microbial community development.

Healthy microbial communities are critical for our health, and disturbances to their development correlate with a range of diseases. Determining what governs community development is vital if we wish to design medical techniques based on manipulating microbial communities.