The SyMBIOTA project examines the influence of environmental exposures and antibiotic use on intestinal microflora in infants -- This project, funded by CIHR, seeks to understand the impact of an array of environmental factors such as household pets, environmental chemicals, and pharmaceuticals (particularly antibiotics) on the establishment of the gut microbiome, and in turn, how alterations in the microbial trajectory of the gut exert influences on the risk for inflammatory disease.
Ecology and taxonomy of fungi associated with the mammalian gut -- The dung of herbivorous animals is host to a great diversity of fungi, including taxa from all phyla of the true fungi representative of many of the major orders. Despite that dung itself is the waste product of animal digestion, it retains considerable nutrients suitable for microbial growth following its deposition. This habitat has been available for microbial exploitation since the evolution of the first land animals over 300 million years ago. However, it was not until the rapid radiation of mammals early in the Tertiary period roughly 60 million years ago that widespread diversification into the coprophilous habitat arose, giving rise to the ancestors of the extant mycoflora of the dung. My laboratory studies these fungal communities as a model system of ecological succession, and to further our understanding of the evolution of other animal-associated traits such as pathogenicity.