WISB Research Career Development Fellow
Gut-associated bacteriophage have the potential to manipulate the gut microbiome, but remain under-studied. Gram negative bacteria, particularly Klebsiella spp. contribute to proatherosclerosis-associated TMA production in the gut. The substrates for TMA production come from the diet, particularly from meat and dairy products. The bacterial metabolic pathways for TMA production are understood for the pre-cursors choline, carnitine and glycine betaine and my research has revealed which bacteria contain these pathways. Phage are known to be in approximately equal proportions to bacteria in human feaces and have the potential to lyse their bacterial host. There is a gap in current knowledge; gut phage and bacteria have been well catalogued, however there remains a lack of understanding of functional metabolism and phage-bacteria-host interactions.
My fellowship focuses on phage-host interaction in the gut microbiome and their impacts on
human health and disease. Phage have the potential as an alternative or complement to antibiotics. I work with both aerobic and anaerobic culturing of facultative anaerobes, using targeted mutagenesis, Next Generation sequencing, functional gene analysis, flow cytometery and ion chromatography. One aspect of my work involves the bacterial metabolism of quaternary amines and production of proatherosclerosis-associated trimethylamine (TMA). I am also interested in the impact of phage on general human health and the role they play in antibiotic resistance.