Orengo Group


Natalie Dawson

Functional annotation of the human tongue metagenome

This project involves the study of the microbes living in various environments inside the human body through metagenomic sequence analysis. The human tongue is of particular interest to us as it is an environment that is very stable and that is not prone to bacterial disease. We are particularly interested in finding novel enzymes that better catalyse a given enzymatic reaction, and understanding how enzyme chemistry evolves.

I am using computational methods to analyse our metagenomic sequences: bacterial phylogenies have been classified and in-house methods that predict protein domain function are being improved. Through these methods we are able to describe the bacterial community structure and predict what they are doing. Finally, our function predictions will be validated through experimental work.

Another part of my PhD is to assist with the improvement an in-house method that predicts protein domain function. I will use the new method to improve the functional annotation of any metagenome data set. This service will be publicly available upon completion.

Research areas: Metagenomics, Protein Function Prediction.