Work of Rachel Dutton on a fascinating human-made microbial ecosystem – cheese rinds

Earlier this week I saw a fascinating talk by Rachel Dutton on the microbial communities in cheese rinds.  Rachel is currently a Bauer Fellow at Harvard University and for the last few years she has been studying microbial communities in cheese rinds.  She was at UC Davis on Monday to give a talk and it was one of the most fascinating talks related to microbial ecology and microbiomes of built environments that I have seen in a long time.  Plus, I met with her earlier in the day and gave her a tour of the UC Davis Genome Center and talked about her work.

Many attended her talk and a few posted to Twitter so I made a mini “Storify” of the posts.  I am embedding s slideshow of the Storify below.

Then a few days later I was contacted by Greg Miller from Wired magazine for comments about her work (they had seen all the Tweeting) and about a new paper of hers. The story from Wired is quite interesting too and captures a lot of what is novel and interesting about her work.  Her is a link to the article: Scientists Uncover a Surprising World of Microbes in Cheese Rind | Science | WIRED.

As I said to the reporter, one of the things I find most fascinating about Rachel’s work is her creation of this “in  vitro” system for creating cheese rinds and her use of this system to study the ecology and functions of these microbial communities.  Definitely something and someone to keep an eye on – brilliant stuff.


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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.