... updates coming soon

The Dorrestein laboratory develops and applies mass spectrometry methods for the study of the microbial communities in human, animals, and of built-in and natural environments.

The laboratory is part of the Center for Microbiome Innovation, and have been involved in multiple projects such as:

1) The development of mass spectrometry approaches to visualize metabolic exchange in a spatial and system-wide manner.

Most microbes live as a microbial consortium where they interact with neighboring organisms through the secretion of signaling molecules and through other metabolic interactions. Microbial communities, such as microbiomes found in the human intestine, dental plaque, skin, rhizosphere, and biofouling communities on boats, contain hundreds to a few thousand different organisms. If each of those microbes produced ten molecules -a reasonable estimate based on the available microbial genome sequences- that are capable of influencing the behavior of neighboring cell populations, there will be a few thousand to low tens of thousands of molecules that these communities secrete into the environment yet we have no tools to characterize them leaving us without understanding of how multiple signals converge on neighboring microbial populations. Because of the fundamental importance of metabolic exchange provided by microbes we are developing the tools that can capture metabolic interactions between two or more cell populations including within entire hosts.

2) The development of mass spectrometry approaches to structurally characterize molecules involved in metabolic exchange and monitor their dynamics.

This work develops a set of strategies to create a set of tools for harnessing the biosynthetic potential of genetically encoded small molecules through mass spectrometry based genome mining. The techniques and methodologies created as a result of this work will not only be important for the detection of therapeutic lead compounds, but also for the efficient characterization of toxins secreted by pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus and Clostridium difficile as well as defensins produced by higher eukaryotes such as marine snails, primates and humans.

3) The applications of mass spectrometry approaches to characterize post-translational modifications on proteins and the biosynthesis of therapeutically important small molecules.

There are many forms of post-translational modifications. While we have a strong interest in novel and transient modification on the biosynthetic pathways of therapeutics. Finally, we also do many collaborative proteomic projects.