New antimicrobials to target gut pathogens

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office

Abstract

There is an increasing need to discover new antimicrobials to combat the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Lantibiotics are small antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria and can kill important pathogens. Interest in using lantibiotics is growing, but targeting pathogens in the complex conditions of the gut is a challenge. The best place to find suitable antimicrobials may be from the gut bacteria themselves.

In the gut microbiota, natural lantibiotic production may help to keep a balance between species, maintaining a healthy diversity. As well as killing target bacteria, lantibiotics may be involved in quorum sensing, acting as signals to communicate within and between species.

We have recently isolated a novel lantibiotic, nisin O, produced by a gut bacterium. It shows activity against food poisoning and gut pathogens. We want to understand how lantibiotic biosynthesis and immunity is regulated and how to improve production. The project will also investigate whether nisin O can act as a signalling molecule in the gut environment. Lastly we will investigate what effect it has on the gut microbiota and specific pathogens, using state of the art in vitro fermentation colon models and advanced metagenomic and metabolomic techniques.

This project will give training in a wide range of techniques from microbiology and molecular biology to peptide analysis and in vitro fermentation. The student will join a dynamic multinational group focussing on understanding and manipulating the gut microbiota, and will have the opportunity to work in the rapidly expanding fields of antimicrobial discovery and bacterial interactions.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2116844 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Jacob Scadden