The Dahms group currently studies microbial and human cellular responses to external stimuli, including mechanisms associated with carbohydrate remodelling. We pioneered techniques to study the surface ultrastructure and physical properties associated with mechanisms of polarized and non-polarized growth in whole, live cells of moss (Physcomitrella patens) and fungi (Aspergillus nidulans) by atomic force microscopy (AFM). More recently we have been exploring invasion mechanisms for pathogenic (Escherichia coli, Pantoea stewartii, Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and symbiotic (Rhizobium leguminosarum) bacteria, and opportunistic fungal/yeast pathogens (A. nidulans, Candida albicans and krusei). We use a battery of microscopy techniques including AFM, fluorescence, laser scanning confocal (two-photon), transmission and scanning electron microscopy, and near-field interferomic infrared AFM (ALS, Berkeley) to complement traditional and modern (metabolomics, proteomics) biochemical approaches.
Of special interest to the group is how the cell surface responds directly to environmental stressors (i.e. metals, 2,4-D, antifungal agents) and how it is remodeled during growth, differentiation, and biofilm formation in wild type and genetically engineered microbes. Our program is developing new tools for environmental impact assessment and antimicrobial combination therapies on the nanoscale. Dahms’ research is currently supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the University of Regina.