The skin is a complex ecosystem inhabited by diverse microbial communities, and various factors including host genetics, immune status and the environment influence community structure and diversity over space and time. However, the extent and mechanisms through which these factors affect skin bacterial communities remain largely unknown. Moreover, several skin diseases are postulated to have a microbial component, but little is known about the underlying mechanisms or origins of disease susceptibility.
We aim to measure the interaction between host genetics and the environment in contributing to the structure and diversity of skin microbiota and its potential contribution to disease. We employ fine quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping of bacterial traits in an advanced intercross between house mouse strains derived from multiple subspecies. We then subject host candidate genes to more detailed functional analysis. In addition, I am performing field studies in wild mice in order to better understand the environmental factors influencing bacterial diversity in the skin.
This project is related to project 3: "Host genome-microbiota interaction and its influence on chronic inflammation in the mouse”.