Sze Chun Chau
Telephone: 6316 2872
- B.Sc. (Hons), National University of Singapore, Singapore
- Ph.Lic and Ph.D, Umeå University, Sweden
- Postdoctoral, Neurobiology of fatal attraction; Stanford University, USA.
Traditionally, bacteria have been perceived as unicellular and free-living, taking on a planktonic lifestyle. In recent decades, however, it has become clear that bacteria in the environment mostly exist in the form of biofilms. Although much attention has been turned to the biofilm mode of growth, often the experimental systems used are composed of single species. Likewise, in planktonic model systems, single-species culture are studied predominantly. Interspecies interaction is an important aspect of bacterial biology, but the current methodologies available have limited the types of dissective investigation that can be performed on multi-species systems. My laboratory has established a dual-fluorescence system for analyzing the transcriptional response of one species due to the influence of other species. Using this system, a repertoire of gene expression is being studied in the context of different combinations of intestinal bacterial species.
Another line of work undertaken by us involves the novel form of Legionella pneumophila biofilm that consists of an extensive meshwork of filamentous cells. Legionella outbreaks are recognized as often due to the contaminated water in man-made environments. It is suggested that a competitive advantage is conferred to L. pneumophila by filamentation in man-made water environments at higher temperatures, by providing a means of rapid proliferation. We look at the genetic regulation behind this phenomenon, as well as the ecological relevance of the filamentous form in the environment. Interaction with amoeba and biofilms formed by other species of bacteria are investigated, to provide insights into the environmental niches of this pathogen, for improved prevention of outbreaks.