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Characterization of stress-induced phenotypic diversity in Vibrio vulnificus biotypes using a multi-omic approach

Research Summary:  In the face of a changing global climate, understanding the environmental controls on water-borne human pathogens is imperative. Pathogens of the genus Vibrionaceae, are autochthonous members of coastal waters and cause devastating human disease. Virulent biotypes of Vibrio vulnificus cause wound infections that can lead to necrotizing fasciitis, as well as foodborne illness with high mortality rates. V. vulnificus thrives in warm, brackish coastal waters, and conditions favorable to its growth are predicted to become more prevalent in coming decades. In fact, the geographic range of observed V. vulnificus infections has recently expanded into more temperate regions of the US. However, the exact mechanisms of virulence, and the conditions that favor virulent biotypes in V. vulnificus, have yet to be determined, and are likely complex and multifaceted. The overarching goal of my research is to understand how the genomic variability and differential gene expression of V. vulnificus strains are related to both virulence and survivorship in varying environmental conditions, specifically those that are changing with Earth’s climate.

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