The University of Maryland Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) was founded in 2007 and introduced several new faculty members with expertise in microbial genomics. The availability of genome sequence data from more than 500 different species, together with the development of sophisticated tools for comparative and functional genomics, have had a profound impact on our understanding of species evolution and the relationship between DNA sequence variation and phenotype in organisms across the phylogenetic tree of life.
Using metagenomic techniques, characterization of human microbiomes has yielded important insights into the balance between pathogens and commensal flora and the balance between sickness and health. In addition, this information has accelerated the development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics for the most serious infectious diseases affecting today's populations, and provides the foundation for a more predictive and preventive approach to medical care in the future.
Drs. Fraser-Liggett, Fricke, Hotopp, Mongodin, Myers, Rasko, Ravel, and Tettelin are using a variety of genomic sequencing approaches, including metagenomics, comparative genomics and functional genomics, to study human intestinal and vaginal microbiomes, as well as evolution and diversity of a variety of bacteria including Bacillus anthracis, Borrelia species, Chlamydia species, Shigella species, pathogenic E. coli, Neisseria meningitides, Streptococcus species, Yersinia species and Wolbachia. The research of Dr. Carneiro da Silva centers on the evolutionary forces and genetic processes that shape genome evolution, including mutation rates and transposable elements, with a particular emphasis on parasites in the phylum Apicomplexa. Dr. Bruno investigates the genomics of Candida Albicans.
At the Columbus Center, comparative and functional genomics are aimed at marine and extremophliic organisms. Drs. DasSarma and Robb study the genomics and microbiology of extremophilic Archaea and bacteria, including the post-genomics of cellular and molecular functions and their biotechnological applications. Drs. Fernandez-Robledo and Vasta are engaged in the genomics and diagnostics of Perkinsus marinus, a protozoan parasite that has devastated the eastern oyster in the Chesapeake Bay.