The function of the human microbiome is implicit in its structure
The Valm laboratory is interested in the relationship between structure and function in the human microbiome; especially how the physical structure of human associated-microbial communities influence health and disease. We use the human oral microbiome as a model system for studying microbial community structure and assembly because it is well-studied and accessible. We combine molecular and DNA sequencing approaches to understand what organisms, genes and potential functions are present in a community and we use advanced imaging technologies to map the spatial distribution of organisms within their environments. With our collaborators in the Biology department as well as outside the UAlbany community we study the systems level spatial structure of oral microbial biofilms in animal models and humans. We combine this discovery based research with hypothesis testing using in vitro culture systems. A second major focus of the lab is to further develop imaging technologies to expand the number of identifiable objects in a microbial sample as well as the development of computational tools for analysis of community structure.