Abhishek Shrivastava develops experimental and computational tools to solve curiosity-driven questions related to the microbiome, biofilms, collective motion, chemotaxis, molecular motors, and protein secretion. One major focus of the Shrivastava lab is to find the factors that shape spatial structure of human microbial communities. They found that motile microbes of that are abundant in the human oral microbiome carry other non-motile bacteria as cargo and shape developing biofilms. Many recent reports show that changes in the human microbiome correlate with the occurrence of periodontal disease, oral and colorectal cancers, obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. The Shrivastava lab aims to find why and how the microbiome correlates with the above diseases and how they can use this information to design therapeutic strategies.
Another major focus of the Shrivastava lab is a molecular rack and pinion machinery that couples with a bacterial Type 9 secretion system (T9SS) and enables bacterial surface navigation. Recently, they found that at the core of the T9SS is a novel rotary motor that is driven by a proton motive force. Until now, only three classes of ion-driven biological rotary motors are known: ATP synthase, the bacterial flagellar motor, and the T9SS motor. We know that the T9SS is composed of 19 different proteins but how the nuts and bolts work together to form an actively driven machinery is not clear. The Shrivastava lab aims to understand the design principles of this incredible molecular machine.