Microbial Ecology

The Ribbeck laboratory developed a 3D model based on purified mucin polymers to study the behavior of microbes inside mucus. Our work shows that mucins can suppress a range of virulence traits in microbes, such as surface attachment, the formation of biofilms, and horizontal gene transfer. Bottom right panels show a live culture of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria grown in the absence of (left) or inside (right) a 3D mucin matrix. Our insights from the study of mucin-microbe interactions may inspire new strategies to target infections, neutralize microbial virulence, and the design of anti-biofilm coatings for implants.