Systems and Synthetic Biology
It's an exciting time for molecular biology and we are fast approaching the time where our experimental design is only limited by our creativity. We make use of recent developments in DNA sequencing, DNA synthesis and DNA assembly methods. For instance, we recently developed a CRISPRi library (Liu et al., Mol. Syst. Biol. 2017) for Streptococcus pneumoniae that allows us to screen essential molecular pathways for new phenotypes. We also performed time-series dual RNA-seq on pneumococci infecting human epithelial cells which showed large transcriptional changes in both host and bacteria (Aprianto et al., Genome Biol. 2016). One of our goals is to make all data accessible and usable. To that end, we developed several databases such as PneumoBrowse, PneumoExpress and dualRNAseq.
Our long-term goal is to understand the pneumococcal life style. Which genes are essential for virulence? What is the role of other bacteria in the nasopharynx and gene exchange between other streptococci? Systems and synthetic biology approaches will be crucial tools to address these questions.