Dr. Sujay Chattopadhyay, Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA, with established expertise in Computational Genomics, visited the Amrita School of Biotechnology on December 14th, 2016. He gave a very insightful talk on “Adaptive Evolution in Microbial Genomes”, as a part of the invited lecture series.
Dr. Sujay discussed the challenges faced in the area of microbial genomics in detecting patho-adaptive evolutionary changes, especially those that are overlooked by conventional micro-evolutionary tools. Comparative genome-wide analysis of pathogens like Escherichia coli and Salmonella illustrate a significant overlap in the functional trajectories of adaptive mutations, representing strong evidence of the link between adaptive evolution and virulence. Dr. Sujay pointed out how changes in the habitat of the pathogen, e.g., from gut to the urinary tract, resulted in gene acquisition, mutation or loss, as a means of evolution of virulence.
Dr. Sujay also discussed synonymous vs non-synonymous mutations and the importance of detecting adaptive convergent evolution of the fimH gene that occurs due to accumulation of Hotspot mutations. He explained their detection thereof, using software tools like TimeZone and PanCoreGen developed by his team. Additionally, he spoke about ongoing work on the microbial variome database. In summary, Dr. Sujay’s seminar illustrated how a perfect blend of Microbiology and Comparative Genomics can help dissect the complexities of adaptive evolution.