- Sapna Chitlapilly Dass
- Assistant Professor, Microbial Ecology and Microbiome Interactions
- Room 314A Kleberg
- Undergraduate Education
- B.S., Zoology, University of Madras, India
- Graduate Education
- M.S., Applied Microbiology, University of Madras, India
- M.S., Industrial Biotechnology, Newcastle University, UK
- Ph.D., Food Microbiology, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland
Sapna is an assistant professor of Microbiology in the Department of Animal Sciences. She received a B.S. in Zoology from University of Madras. She obtained her M.S. degree in Industrial Biotechnology from Newcastle University. She earned her Ph.D. in Food Microbiology from Dublin Institute of Technology. Before joining the department, her prior appointments were, postdoctoral research associate in University of Nebraska- Lincoln, postdoctoral research engineer in France National center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and University of Paris VI (UPMC), Banyuls-sur-Mer, France and research internship, French National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA), Nancy, France.
Research in Dass lab is centered around – the multipartite interactions between human pathogens, their host, and the microbiome. We focus on two key areas host-pathogen interactions and pathogen protection in multi-species biofilms. The holistic understanding of pathogen protection, dispersal processes and their underlying microbiological mechanisms, is highly significant, as it will lead to powerful new approaches that could reduce pathogen outbreaks. Our research is highly interdisciplinary, amalgamating the fields of microbial ecology, biophysics, biofilm biology, virology and mathematical modeling. We use a combination of multi- OMICS (metagenomics, metatranscriptomics and metabolomics), microscopy, microfluidic techniques, supported by large-scale mathematical modelling to understand the multipartite interactions.
Multi-species Biofilms: The environmental biofilms are most often composed of multi-species microorganisms and the community is shaped by the environment in which it grows. Many foodborne pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes can form multi species-biofilms with environmental microorganisms. Recurrent pathogen outbreaks associated with the same species in a food processing facility are most likely linked to biofilm persistence in the facility. A major goal of our group is to understand the adaptive response of the pathogen to mixed species environmental biofilm. Specifically, we are interested in understanding how pathogens are recruited into the mixed-species biofilm community, how they co-evolve in the shared niche and finally pathogen transmission pathways.
Host-Microbe Interactions: Our interest in host-microbe interactions is centered around the concept of “pathobiome”. Evolving from the concept of Kohn and Hills’s disease postulate, the concept of pathobiome looks at a pathogen and its complex interactions with the host and host associated microbiome which may influence or drive the disease process. In this area, we are interested in understanding how the pathogen integrates into the host environment and spreads the disease. Also, we are interested in the mechanism of ‘microbiota kin selection” and how this microbial community evolve to reach a climax community harboring the pathogen in the host environment.