Microbial ecosystems and their metabolic activity play a fundamental but poorly understood role at multiple scales, from human health to biogeochemical cycles. In fact, metabolism, in addition to being the “engine” of every living cell, mediates competition and cross-feeding between different species, and dictates how cells interact with their surrounding environment. In our lab, we use genomic information to build models of the metabolic networks of different microbes, and we perform spatio-temporal simulations of microbial community dynamics. These models provide insight into how metabolic secretions can promote the diversity of natural microbial consortia, and how they can be harnessed for the design of synthetic ecosystems.
Prof. Daniel Segrè is a Professor of Biology, Biomedical Engineering and Physics, and a core faculty member in the Bioinformatics Graduate Program at Boston University. He is a member of the Biological Design Center and the founding director of the Boston University Microbiome Initiative. After training in Physics in Trieste, Italy, Prof. Segrè obtained a Ph.D. in the Life Sciences at the Weizmann Institute, Israel, where he studied the origin and evolution of living systems. As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, and later as a faculty at BU, Prof. Segrè started developing mathematical and computational approaches for understanding metabolism at multiple scales, from individual organisms to large-scale ecosystems. Current work in the Segrè lab is focused on predicting, designing and experimentally testing metabolic activity in microbes and microbial communities, with applications in human microbiome research, marine and soil biogeochemical cycling, and synthetic ecology. Among other contributions, the Segrè group has pioneered some of the first algorithms for the design of new putative inter-species interactions, and has developed COMETS (Computation Of Microbial Ecosystems in Time and Space), a quantitative framework for simulating microbial ecosystems in spatially structured environments.