Roberto Kolter, Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard’s
Medical School, believes that microbes, bacteria in particular, have gotten a bad
rap. “Oh sure, occasionally a nasty one like Salmonella or E. coli gets through
and causes trouble,” he says, “but for the most part bacteria are quite beneficial,
helping us to digest our food, for example, and aiding in the maintenance of the
Microbes are also ubiquitous – living practically everywhere – but for the most
part, scientists still know little about them, Roberto adds. To illustrate this point,
Roberto likes to quote one of his heroes, famous naturalist and ecologist E.O.
Wilson, who once said: “…Ten billion bacteria live in a gram of ordinary soil, a
mere pinch held between thumb and forefinger. They represent thousands of
species, almost none of which are known to science…”
It is in this world of microbial investigation that Roberto’s passions lie. His
research interests are broad, but these days his laboratory’s eclectic endeavors
are primarily focused on studying the ecology and evolution of microbes
(particularly bacteria) at the molecular level.
To this end, the Kolter Lab at Harvard Medical School has become especially
known for its research into a highly evolved and complex type of microbial
community called biofilm, and how an important non-pathogenic bacterium
known as Bacillus subtilis functions in that environment.
How do microbes impact your world today?
Read more about Roberto Kolter here