Insects as models to study the impact of antibiotics and microbiota therapies on the human gut microbiome: reducing the use of animals in research

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

Abstract

Background: The human gut is home to complex microbial communities (the gut microbiota) that have a profound effect on our health and well-being. Our knowledge of the contribution of specific bacterial species to resistance against pathogens, and how antibiotics impact the microbiota and the carriage of antimicrobial resistance genes (i.e. the 'resistome') is far from complete. Crucially, our opportunities to investigate the effects of antibiotics and 'probiotic' treatments on the human gut microbiome are limited due to ethical considerations. Although murine models can be used these are also subject to strict ethical controls and cost constraints. Insect models represent realistic alternatives. G. mellonella (Greater wax moth) has been utilised in toxicity, microbial virulence and antibiotic susceptibility trials, and thus represents an attractive model system for studying microbiota interactions.
Aims: The goal of this PhD studentship is to establish G. mellonella as a model system to study the human gut microbiome, particularly that of infants, and determine the impact that anti- and pro-biotics have on these microbial communities. Molecular microbiology, next generation sequencing, bioinformatics, and insect husbandry techniques will all be used in this multi-disciplinary PhD.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NC/R001782/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2021
2223805 Studentship NC/R001782/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2021 Harriet Gooch