Ophelia S. Venturelli
HF DeLuca Biochemical Sciences Building
440 Henry Mall
Madison, WI 53706
Ph: (608) 263-7017
Chemical and Biological Engineering
In natural environments, microbes are embedded in dense networks composed of self and non-self that realize collective-functions, which cannot be achieved by isogenic populations. Microbial consortia impact the physiology of multi-cellular host organisms via host-microbe symbioses, implement spatial-temporal programs, exhibit robustness and resilience to environmental perturbations and harness division-of-labor to compartmentalize chemical transformations. Unraveling the ecological and molecular basis of emergent
properties of microbial systems necessitates a quantitative understanding of the mapping between physiological states and time-resolved community structure and activity. Developing computational and experimental frameworks to realize stable, functional and energy-efficient communities to mediate human health, agriculture and bioenergy is a grand challenge.
The Venturelli lab leverages computational modeling, theory and experiment to investigate the evolutionary design principles of molecular networks and microbial communities. We aim to elucidate a quantitative and mechanistic understanding of community-level functions including assembly, stability and resilience to environmental pressures. Biological and engineering design rules will be exploited to construct microbial control systems for targeted manipulation of microbial consortia. Microbial control systems will integrate novel sensors of key biotic and abiotic signals, information processing mechanisms, actuators, feedback strategies to buffer against uncertainty and for autonomous operation and safeguards for biocontainment. Our research combines multiplexed measurements of single cells and populations with concepts from control theory, nonlinear dynamical systems and multi-objective optimization for systems-level characterization and design.