Date of Award

Summer 8-19-2022

Document Type

Thesis (Ph.D.)

Department or Program

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Carey D. Nadell


The diversity of microbes and the environments they inhabit are staggering. In many of these environments, bacteria have evolved to form sessile surface attached communities called biofilms. These biofilms have wide reaching impacts from importance in global carbon cycling, to persistent catheter infections, to biofouling and wastewater treatment. While many species of microbes form biofilms to survive in their environment, the architectures of these structures vary widely between organisms. Even though a great deal of work has been done to understand bacterial communities and their functions, little work has examined how the spatial aspects of biofilm architecture can affect the ecology of a species. Vibrio cholerae is a marine bacterium that has been at the forefront of understanding biofilm architecture at the single cell level. Here, we use confocal microscopy and microfluidics to understand the impacts that biofilm architecture have on V. cholerae’s ability to exist in a wealth of environments. We examine its capacity for intra-strain competition, predation protection, and multispecies community assembly through the lens of biofilm architecture. This thesis establishes how the architecture of a biofilm is a critical component when understanding the ecology of a microbe and should be considered along with more conventional traits.