On this week’s The Sci-Files, your hosts Chelsie and Danny interview Shelby Dechow. Shelby is a 5th year Ph.D. student in Dr. Robert Abramovitch’s lab. Her research focuses on how Mycobacterium tuberculosis senses and adapts to its host environment. M. tuberculosis (Mtb) is responsible for around 10 million new tuberculosis (TB) infections annually and causes respiratory disease in humans. Shelby’s primary focus is understanding how Mtb uses environmental pH as a cue to modulate its physiology for survival in macrophages – an acidic environment. During infection, Mtb will arrest its growth and can remain in a quiescent state for decades. Acidic pH stress of the macrophage has been shown to be one of the initial cues Mtb encounters during infection. Using genetic screening techniques, mutants that resist arresting their growth at acidic pH were identified. Furthermore, all identified mutations occurred within a single gene. Shelby’s research is focused on understanding how this particular gene controls Mtb physiology under acidic conditions, particularly during infection.
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