Cutaneous wound infection is a challenge that has been exacerbated by antibiotic resistance. Older adults and chronic disease populations, such as those with diabetes, are disproportionally affected. We know that the development of a polymicrobial biofilm in wound tissue is associated with impaired healing. Wound healing outcomes in these individuals are often further complicated by co-morbidities that affect circulation, poor perfusion, and malnutrition. Due to these complexities, the extent of microbial influences on tissue regeneration is a controversial topic that remains unresolved. This is a major healthcare problem because wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers can often persist for years.
Our goal is to understand the dynamics and genetic determinants of microbe-microbe interactions, including synergistic associations between bacterial and fungal isolates from real chronic wound microbiomes. Another aspect of this project aims to elucidate the role of the skin microbiome in acute wound healing to determine if it is significantly altered as a result of a major injury and if specific microbial symbionts contribute to long-term skin integrity and barrier function.