My research interests have always been related to the field of antibiotics and in my studies, I look at different aspects including antimicrobial resistance and drug discovery.
PROJECT: Chicken or the Egg: Is AMR in the Environment Driven by Dissemination of Antibiotics or Antibiotic Resistance Genes? (NERC funded project)
The environment represents a significant reservoir of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) of clinical importance. In particular, river sites situated downstream of wastewater treatment plants have been reported as hotspots for ARGs abundance. However, it is still unknown how low environmental concentrations of antibiotics and other pollutants might affect the microbial community and the spreading of these ARGs.
In collaboration with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and University of Exeter, we are studying the selective pressure exerted by low concentration of antimicrobial agents on enriching and promoting ARG persistence and movement into the microbial community in riverine habitats. We use in situ flumes (in the river), lab replicated river microcosms and a combination of techniques including high-throughput quantitative PCR, metagenomic, metaproteomic and amplicon sequencing analysis to monitor changes in the microbial community under selective pressure of different antibiotics. We also use enrichment cultures to better understand the turnover and biodegradation of these xenobiotics in the environment, which can play an important role as mechanism of resistance to these compounds.
PROJECT: Novel bioactive metabolites from soil Bacteroidetes.
Another aspect of my research focuses on the characterisation of novel antimicrobial compounds. Recent work in our lab showed that previously underexploited groups, such as Bacteroidetes, have the potential for secondary metabolites. However, environmental isolates have not been yet experimentally characterised for their potential for novel natural products. In collaboration with the Department of Chemistry, part of my research focuses on the characterization of the antimicrobial resistance profile and the antibiotic production potential of a soil-dwelling bacterial isolate belonging to the phylum of Bacteroidetes.