How do microorganisms interact to form complex communities?
In the natural world, microbes live in communities where individuals rely on one another. The vast majority of microbes cannot produce all of the nutrients they require, and instead depend on other microbes to produce nutrients such as amino acids and vitamins. This type of microbial interaction, nutrient sharing, is a major driver of microbial community assembly and function.
To study how nutrient sharing occurs in microbial communities, we specifically focus on vitamin B12 and B12 analogs, collectively termed corrinoids. Corrinoids are cofactors involved in the biosynthesis of amino acids and DNA, carbon metabolism, and many specialized metabolic processes. With a focus on corrinoids, the Taga Lab dissects molecular interactions and interdependencies critical to communities. Interestingly, while the majority of microorganisms use corrinoids, only a subset of microbes can produce them. We study the biosynthesis of corrinoids, how bacteria obtain corrinoids from their environment, and the role of corrinoid sharing in microbial community dynamics.