Deciphering the molecular secrets of the causative agent of the ongoing 7th cholera pandemic


Event details

Date and time 30.09.2020 12:1513:15  
Place and room
Speaker Prof. Melanie Blokesch
Category Conferences - Seminars
Cholera is a devastating diarrheal disease that sickens millions of people each year. Despite incredible progress over the past hundred years in our understanding of the pathogen’s virulence mechanisms, we still lack crucial information related to its transmission. While we know that the route of transmission occurs mostly via contaminated water, it is still not entirely clear why cholera outbreaks in endemic regions often follow seasonal patterns. Indeed, the environmental aspects of the causative agent of the disease, the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, have so far been insufficiently studied at the molecular level. In my talk, I will address this knowledge gap and present insights into the pathogen’s environmental lifestyle including its potential to form bacterial communities on biotic surfaces and its evolvability. I will also show how the bacterium actively seeks genetic material from neighbors while defending itself against mobile genetic mobile elements, bacterial competitors, and eukaryotic grazers. I will end my talk with speculations on how these environmental features might prime the pathogen for interbacterial competition and intestinal colonization.
Short Bio:
Melanie Blokesch obtained her doctoral degree in Biology from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, where her research focused on metalloenzyme maturation and hydrogen production in bacteria. During a four years postdoctoral stay within the Department of Microbiology & Immunology of Stanford University, USA she switched her research topic towards the study of infectious agents. She joined the faculty of the School of Life Sciences of EPFL in 2009, first as Assistant Professor and later as Associate Professor. While at EPFL, she obtained two consecutive ERC grants, became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Research Scholar, and was elected as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). As service to the community, she also accepted her election to the National Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation in 2018.


Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • SV Faculty


  • Dr H. Hirling, M. Mary


Infectious diseases molecular mechanisms pathogen emergence bacterial communities secretion system

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