Microbes are most often studied in the lab under standardized physiological conditions. But in the real world they meet and respond to far different and more varied conditions. Microbia Inc. believes understanding the ways in which microbes sense and control their changing environments is the key to producing the next generation of antimicrobial drugs. Along the way, this study also is yielding methods for enhancing recombinant bacteria-based production of drugs and other compounds.

CEO Peter Hecht said the concept for the company grew out of his research on how fungi determine that they will invade a given surface. The work showed that fungi use pH as a cue for invasion and suggested to Hecht and others in the same lab that further study of microbes' interactions with their environment would prove fruitful.