Dr. Liang Yang is the Deputy Research Director for the Public Health and Medical Biofilm Cluster of Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE). SCELSE is one of the world’s leading biofilm research institutes supported by the National Research Foundation and the Ministry of Education of Singapore under its Research Centre of Excellence Programme. Dr. Yang’s research is dedicated to bacterial biofilm drug resistance, interspecies communications, adaptive evolution and host-pathogen interactions. Dr. Yang has published 80 plus peer-reviewed research articles with a total citation more than 4,000 times according to google scholar. Dr. Yang has been awarded the FEMS Congress Grant for Young Scientist, Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship and the Elite Nanyang Assistant Professorship.
Microorganisms mainly live as highly organized surface-associated biofilm communities encased within extracellular matrices in nature. In the biofilm mode of life microbial cells communicate and interact with each other to coordinate functional group activities including defense against hazardous environment stress, and exchange of genetic material. Biofilms are extremely resistant to antimicrobial agents and physical stress and cause a wide range of problems to industrial and hospital settings. The National Institute of Health (NIH) in the US estimates that 65-80% of microbial infections occurring in the human body are biofilm-mediated. My research is dedicated to understanding intercellular signaling, interspecies interactions, and microbial evolution in the context of the biofilm lifestyle. At the fundamental level, both environmental stress and host immune-derived stress are examined for their impacts on inducing bacterial intercellular (quorum sensing) and intracellular (c-di-GMP) signaling mechanisms that coordinate biofilm formation and stress resistance. The combination of molecular biology and systems biology tools (transcriptomics and proteomics) has enabled us to examine how quorum sensing and c-di-GMP signaling mediate stress response in mono-species and multiple-species biofilms. At the applied level, high-throughput screening tools have been developed for discovering active compounds that can impair bacterial quorum sensing and c-di-GMP signaling. In addition, quorum sensing and c-di-GMP signaling are also being manipulated for improving the performance of industrial related bioreactors such as the microbial fuel cells. At the translational level, clinical isolates of major nosocomial infection causing species are monitored for their antibiotic resistance and genome contents. Comparative genomics and experimental evolution experiments are further employed to identify adaptive evolution of pathogens during chronic biofilm-associated infections.