March 5, 2007
Karen Ottemann to discuss ulcer-causing bacteria
in winter Synergy Lecture
"Swimming in the stomach: Ulcer-causing bacterium
Helicobacter pylori and disease" is the title of
the Winter 2007 Synergy Lecture by Karen Ottemann, associate
professor of environmental toxicology. The lecture will take
place on Thursday, March 8, at 4 p.m. in the Current Periodicals
Room of the Science & Engineering Library. Light refreshments
will be available.
Ottemann's research focuses on the swimming ability of the
bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its relationship to
disease. In the past few decades, scientists have discovered
that most ulcers are caused by H. pylori. This bacterium
has many attributes that allow it to grow in the stomach and cause disease.
Ottemann's lab studies one of these attributes--the ability to swim.
H. pylori possesses several motors called flagellae, which
it uses to propel itself. It does not swim at random, but navigates
toward beneficial compounds and away from harmful ones. Ottemann
investigates why H. pylori has this ability and how it
helps the microbe infect and cause ulcers. Her lab creates
H. pylori mutants that lack the ability to direct their
swimming, and the researchers then study how these mutants differ
from their normal parents.
Ottemann and her team have discovered that H. pylori
hunts down specific nutrients by swimming, and this ability helps
it grow. The microbe also uses swimming to get close to the cells
that line the stomach, where infection initiates the development
of an ulcer.
More information about Ottemann and her research can be
found on her web site.
For more information, visit the
Synergy Lecture Series web site, or call (831)459-3141.