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Joseph Mougous is interested in the arsenal bacteria employ when competing with their neighbors. Mougous and his team combine genetic, biochemical, and in situ approaches to define the mechanism of action and physiological consequences of the elaborate defensive and offensive systems produced by bacteria. Currently, they are studying secretion systems that deliver toxic proteins to neighboring bacterial cells, bacterial interactions in the human gut, novel toxin activities in diverse bacteria, and secreted virulence factors that subvert host cell defenses and facilitate infection. The team is also engaged in applied work seeking to harness and direct the antimicrobial properties of bacteria for therapeutic purposes.