Play tough or play nice: exploring invasion success in bacterial communities – a novel National Sequencing Project


Assistant Professor Johan Bengtsson-Palme (University of Gothenburg) heads a biodiversity research project recently granted financing of large-scale sequencing via the SciLifeLab National Sequencing Projects initiative. SciLifeLab gave him a call to learn about the upcoming study of how the genetic composition of bacteria influences their ability to infiltrate an established biofilm.

Congratulations Johan! Could you describe your reaction to finding out the evaluators had decided to support your project?
“I was positively surprised as I know there are always lots of high-quality research projects in the running. It opens up an array of possibilities for me and I can now approach my scientific questions unrestrictedly.”

So, what is the focus of your new research endeavor?
“My upcoming experiments explore which genes influence the outcome when a bacterial species attempts to colonize an environment where there are already a community of other bacterial species established. The twist here, is that we also investigate the interplay between these genetic variants and the effect of added antibiotics. When a new species enters a bacterial community, its success really boils down to survival through either living in peace with the existing types or eliminating the competition.”

What is your first step?
“Well, the first major event is that my family and I are packing up to move from Sweden to the U.S. There, I will perform the experimental work of this project in the lab of Professor Jo Handelsman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When the time comes, I will send bacterial DNA samples back to Sweden to be sequenced using the SciLifeLab infrastructure, and then I’ll return to Sweden in 2019 to analyze the generated data.”


Johan Bengtsson Palme is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Infectious Diseases, Institute of Biomedicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. He is also affiliated with the Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research (CARe) at the University of Gothenburg.


Last updated: 2017-12-20

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