Skip to main content


Microbial Systems Biology


The IGERT Systems Biology core course (6 credits, one year) aims to engage students in formal interdisciplinary training and practicum focused on microbial community interactions. During the last academic year, a manuscript was completed and submitted with all first-year IGERT students as co-authors as well as several IGERT faculty. This group effort culminated a year-long academic exercise designed to dissect the interdisciplinary contributions necessary for understanding microbial community structure and function. The project focused on a simple thermophilic cyanobacterial mat community, which was represented with four interacting organisms (Figure 1). Genomic based pathway reconstruction and physiological data were used to constrain assumptions and three approaches to organism interaction were evaluated. Results clearly demonstrate the utility of network modeling as a tool for evaluating and testing hypotheses pertinent to microbial ecology and community structure-function.

Address Goals

We believe one of the key elements to the development of an organized training program is the engagement in programmatic activities. By definition, this means working together and contributing to common goals. Achieving productive outcomes as a team also builds individual capacity. The modeling exercise devoted to dissection of a relatively simple cyanobacterial microbial mat provided one mechanism for this process to occur.