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Research Themes

Host Microbiome (Holobiont) Interactions

All higher organisms live in intimate association with microbes. The interactions are primarily positive or neutral, with microbes imparting protection from pathogens or providing nutrients to the hosts, which in turn provide favourable niches for residing biofilms. However, microbes are also then causative agents of disease in a host and, as biofilms, are responsible for acute and chronic infections.

Research projects

SCELSE’s host microbiome (holobiont) interactions research covers several host organisms, from plants and invertebrates in aquatic and terrestrial systems to humans, to understanding the broad scope of interactions, and complex associations between hosts and their microbiomes. This knowledge provides insights into the healthy functioning and wellbeing of the host organisms, with broader implications for ecosystem health. The response of an organism to competition and environmental change involves both the host as well as its microbiome. As such, holobiont systems can be manipulated to promote resilience, such as increased tolerance of temperature stress in corals, or modifying gut or skin microbiomes for host health and pathogen deterrence.

Understanding microbiomes as a whole and as component parts is imperative to ensuring a healthy host.

Topics include:

  • Indoor air microbiomes and respiratory disease
  • Gut microbiome for health and wellbeing
  • Microbiomes for skin and scalp health
  • Human microbiomes Insect microbiomes
  • Rodent (model) microbiomes
  • Coral and seagrass microbiomes for resilient coastal ecosystems
  • Insect microbiomes
  • Plant rhizosphere microbiomes for crop health and productivity



Neutrophils surround an E. faecalis biofilm during infective endocarditis, stained for DNA (blue) and citrullinated histone H3 (yellow).

Host Microbiome (Holobiont) Interactions publications

    Host Microbiome (Holobiont) Interactions in the media

      Host Microbiome (Holobiont) Interactions collaborations

      L’Oréal-SCELSE joint laboratory

      L’Oréal Singapore comprises a Research & Innovation Centre for skin and hair science, foresight and open innovation. Singapore is also the site of the Asia Centre of Excellence for Microbiome knowledge studies. Leveraging on the rich scientific ecosystem within SCELSE, the joint lab with SCELSE (established in 2020) conducts upstream research within the scope of skin/scalp microbiome. Researchers in the joint lab will look into functional dissection of the microbiome and possible applications of microbes for cosmetics and dermatology. The partners have already jointly patented new technologies and this initiative will expand and strengthen their collaboration in the future.
      Research Themes: Biofilm biology & Mechanisms, Host Microbiome (Holobiont) Interactions