Andrew "Ted" Van Alst
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
2015 B.S. Genomics and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University
Vibrio cholerae colonizes the human gastrointestinal tract and causes the disease cholera. Successful colonization and infection requires V. cholerae to pass through the mucosal barrier of the small intestine and adhere to epithelial cells lining the lumen. The mucosal surface, when degraded by enzymes such as mucinases, can serve as a growth substrate, promoting growth for both commensal and pathogenic bacteria. The goal of my research is to better understand the mechanisms V. cholerae employs to degrade and metabolize mucin, the protein component of mucus. This will expand our understanding of the physiology of V. cholerae during infection, and may enable us to identify approaches to attenuate colonization of potential hosts.