25 25
May May
2022 2022

Principal's Research Seminar: Microbial mercenaries: surviving the battlefield of life


Dr Kieran Bates, E.P. Abraham Junior Research Fellow, will give the Principal's Research Seminar for Trinity term on Microbial mercenaries: surviving the battlefield of life.

We are used to thinking of microbes as potentially harmful “germs” yet we, as other multicellular organisms, are ecosystems in our own right, each hosting our own microbial menagerie. The microbes that make a host a home play vitally important roles from shaping the immune system, aiding digestion, influencing behaviour and defending against invading pathogens. Our beneficial microbial partners however are not charitable, instead imposing a cost to the host for services rendered. Policing or co-operation therefore helps to maintain a mutually advantageous host-microbe relationship which, when awry, can lead to a bad deal for the host or even turn good microbes bad!  In this seminar, Dr Bates will describe how studying microbial communities (the microbiome) is revolutionising our understanding of biology across the tree of life, particularly in health and disease. He will also explore what experimental biology may tell us about how microbes shape the evolution of their hosts.  

As an undergraduate, Dr Bates studied Biological Sciences at University College London. He then moved to Imperial College London to study for a PhD in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology. His doctoral research examined the drivers of heterogeneity in an outbreak of a fungal pathogen of amphibians, with particular focus on the influence of the skin microbiota in shaping infection resistance. Dr Bates went on to a Post-doc in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford before joining St Hilda’s as a Junior Research Fellow.