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Microbial Systems Biology

Our research group is interested in understanding the molecular interactions that define prokaryotes using the Systems Biology approach. We intend to use diverse high-throughput 'omic' technologies, analyze and integrate experimental data using bioinformatics tools and formulate models that describe and predict the behavior of a cell. The integration and exploration of the data and model will raise new hypothesis which will be experimentally tested - validating or refuting the proposed model. This iterative cycle requires the interdisciplinar collaboration between biologists, computer scientist and mathematicians.

To understand and organism as a whole, we are using the archaea Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 as a model. This unicellular prokaryote thrives in conditions of extreme salinity, it has a compact genome and is easily cultivated and manipulated in the laboratory. It is a fascinating microbe, with potential applications in biotechnology, studies in astrobiology, besides it's role as a model archaea in Systems Biology: six years after the completion of the genome, there is a global gene regulatory network available for Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1.

Our aim is to feed the global gene regulatory model with mechanistic details of gene regulation. We hope that our efforts in inserting molecular mechanisms in a global model will help Synthetic Biology efforts in engineering biological systems.