PhD Title: Controlling toxin production in Enteric bacteria
Supervisors: Dr David C Grainger
The intestines of humans and animals are home to trillions of microorganisms including many different species of bacteria. Most of these bacteria are harmless and actually benefit the host organism. However, some bacteria have evolved molecular systems that allow them to attack unfortunate hosts. Thus, these harmful “pathogenic” bacteria cause severe disease that result in millions of deaths every year. The Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), Vibrio cholerae and Yersinia enterocolitica all produce the same “heat-stable” toxin that directly targets epithelial cells in the host intestine. This toxin forces the host cells to excrete large amounts of water and electrolytes. He will be determining the molecular mechanisms via which toxin production is regulated in these different bacteria. He is presently working on the most potent ST toxin, and looking over its regulation.