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Abhishek Shrivastava develops experimental and computational tools to solve questions related to the microbiome, biofilms, collective motion, chemotaxis, molecular motors, and protein secretion. One major focus of the Shrivastava lab is to figure out the factors that shape the spatial structure of human microbial communities. They found that motile microbes of the phylum Bacteroidetes that are abundant in the human oral microbiome carry other non-motile bacteria as cargo and shape developing biofilms. Alongside, they also found a molecular rack and pinion machinery that couples with a bacterial Type IX secretion system and enables surface navigation. To carry out this research, they received a K99/R00 award from the NIH.
The Shrivastava lab combines biology, physics, and bioinformatics to answer curiosity-driven questions that are related to the microbiome and microbial systems biology. Many recent reports show that changes in the human microbiome correlate with the occurrence of periodontal disease, oral and colorectal cancers, obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. They aim to find why and how the microbiome correlates with the above diseases and how they can use this information to design therapeutic strategies. On the microbial systems biology front, they are interested in finding the nuts and bolts of a molecular rack and pinion machinery that enables motility gliding bacteria. The network that governs chemotaxis of single cells is also of interest to the lab.