First Person is a series of interviews with the first authors of a selection of papers published in Biology Open, helping early-career researchers promote themselves alongside their papers. Jie Li is first author on ‘ Genome sequence and pathogenicity of Vibrio vulnificus strain MCCC 1A08743 isolated from contaminated prawns’, published in BiO. Jie is an assistant professor (lecturer in China university system) in the lab of Fu Yang at the Department of Medical Genetics, Naval Medical University, Shanghai, China, investigating bacterial infection and liver injury.
What is your scientific background and the general focus of your lab?
I have a PhD in microbiology, my work during my PhD focused on viral infection and immune response. Now I am an assistant professor (lecturer in China university system) at the Naval Medical University in China, and I am interested in bacterial infection and injury including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and hepatocellular carcinoma.
How would you explain the main findings of your paper to non-scientific family and friends?
Be careful with these bacteria when eating seafood or playing at the seaside, as they can make you sick, especially if you already have chronic liver disease.
What are the potential implications of these results for your field of research?
A complete genomic picture is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying Vibrio vulnificus pathogenicity and evolution more thoroughly, and to explore strategies for decreasing V. vulnificus loads in marine animals and reducing incidence of invasive disease. Thus, this research work is important. We are interested in the phenotype of infected liver and would like to do more research on the reason why people with chronic liver disease are at more risk of infection and death. I think the genome analysis of this research provided clues.
What has surprised you the most while conducting your research?
The pathogenicity annotation of the MCCC 1A08743 genome, using Virulence Factor Database and Pathogen-Host Interactions database predicted the pathogenicity of the strain, and this was confirmed using mice infection experiments.
What, in your opinion, are some of the greatest achievements in your field and how has this influenced your research?
There are currently 238 genome assembly and annotation reports of V. vulnificus available in NCBI databases, and more than half of the reports are strains from the United States, with less than 10% of strains reported from mainland China. While V. vulnificus-related amputation and deaths have recently increased in China, with mortality rates ranging from 18 to 56%. We reported the genome sequence, gene annotation, core genome phylogenetic and pathogenicity analysis of the newly isolated V. vulnificus strain MCCC 1A08743 from contaminated prawns in China. Our work filled the V. vulnificus pool and provided clues for a more comprehensive understanding of this pathogenic bacteria.
What changes do you think could improve the professional lives of early-career scientists?
More opportunities to show our work to the public
What's next for you?
Continuing to work on V. vulnificus infection and liver injury.
Jie Li's contact details: Department of Medical Genetics, Naval Medical University, Shanghai, 200433, China