BBSRC Studentship: The role of biofilms in Campylobacter survival in, and transmission through the food chain

Lead Research Organisation: Quadram Institute Bioscience
Department Name: Contracts


The bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is the leading cause of food-borne bacterial gastroenteritis in the developed world, with diarrhoeal disease often associated with consumption of undercooked poultry products. Campylobacter jejuni must survive during transit on food products, in stressful storage conditions which include different temperatures and atmospheric oxygen levels. Biofilm formation is a well characterized bacterial mode of growth and survival, as the surface-attached and matrix-encased bacteria are protected from stressful environmental conditions such as UV radiation, predation, and desiccation. The research in this PhD-studentship builds on recent findings at the Institute of Food Research that biofilm formation of Campylobacter jejuni is much more rapid in food-chain relevant conditions like atmospheric oxygen levels (20% O2), and that these biofilms allows the bacterium to survive for long periods of time (Appl. Env. Microbiol. 2010;76:2122).

In collaboration with Campden BRI we will investigate (i) the cooperation and synergy of food chain-relevant conditions on biofilm formation by Campylobacter; (ii) study the composition of Campylobacter biofilms and their role in survival in model foods (iii) study the potential of compounds interfering with biofilm formation on their inhibition on Campylobacter transmission. These investigations will combine microbiological, molecular and biochemical techniques, and will be assessed for their use in risk assessments for Campylobacter. This studentship gives a unique opportunity to combine fundamental and applied research with the aim of combatting foodborne illness in academical and industrial research settings.


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