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Station Biologique de Roscoff
Marine Glycobiology Group
UMR 7139 (CNRS / UPMC)
Place Georges Teissier BP74
Roscoff, Brittany, France
Dr. Gurvan MICHEL

I am a Research Director of the French National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) and I am working at the Station Biologique de Roscoff (Brittany, France).

I studied biology at the National Agronomic Institute Paris-Grignon (INA P-G) and received my Engineer diploma in 1997. As a PhD student I learnt crystallography with Otto Dideberg at the Structural Biology Institute (IBS) in Grenoble and obtained my doctorate in 2000. In 2001-2002, I was a research associate in Miroslaw Cygler's group at the Biotechnology Research Institute in Montreal, Canada . In 2003, I joined Bernard Kloareg's department at the Station Biologique de Roscoff, as a CNRS permanent scientist. With Mirjam Czjzek I participated to the development of a crystallography group in Roscoff (the Marine Glycobiology group).
My initial research strategy was to combine genomics approaches with structural methods to investigate the function of novel polysaccharidases from marine bacteria and algae. In collaboration with Rudolph Amann's group (MPI Bremen, Germany) and the Genoscope (Evry, France), I coordinated together with Tristan Barbeyron the genome project of the flavobacterium Zobellia galactanivorans, a key degrader of algal polysaccharides. Using this genomic data, my PhD students and I characterized new GH specific for red algal galactans. Unexpectedly, such genes were transferred from marine Bacteroidetes to Japanese gut microbiota, due to the traditional consumption of seaweeds in Japan (Hehemann et al, Nature, 2010, Rebuffet et al, Env Micro, 2011). These works unraveled the possibility of horizontal gene transfers (HGT) between environmental bacteria associated to food and human microbiota (Thomas et al, Front Micro, 2011).
I also contributed to the Ectocarpus genome project (Cock et al, Nature, 2010). I identified the genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism in this brown alga and traced their evolutionary origins. Notably, I provided evidences that a crucial HGT event occurred between an ancestral actinobacterium and the common ancestor of brown algae, resulting in the acquisition of the biosynthetic routes for mannitol, alginate and some hemicelluloses (Michel et al, New Phytol, 2010a&b).

Since the 1st of Octobre 2011, I was promoted CNRS Research Director. I am now co-leader with Mirjam czjzek of the "marine glycobiology" group, which has been divided in two teams. I'm leading the "Integrative Biology of seaweed-associated bacteria" team. Our main project is to develop Zobellia galactanivorans as a model marine bacterium to study bacteria-seaweed interactions.
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