Wenhan Zhu lab
The human gut microbiota exhibit an astonishing level of resilience to stressors and perturbations. However, when this resilience fails the resulting microbial imbalance has been linked to a wide-array of disease states in susceptible individuals, including colorectal cancer. We believe that the homeostatic regulation of iron, which is an essential cofactor to nearly all forms of life, plays an integral role in this resilience. My project is focused on elucidating the regulation and mechanisms of the iron-sparing response in the highly prevalent human gut commensal Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. Using B. theta as a model organism, we endeavor to better understand the role of iron regulation in the maintenance of a homeostatic gut environment and the protection from disease-associated microbiota imbalances.