We are interested in understanding the metabolism of bacteria that have adapted to survive in specific niches, including host organisms, foodstuffs and the environment. By linking observed and engineered DNA mutations to their impact upon metabolic function, we gain insights into the biology of niche adapted bacteria.
Understanding niche adaptation will give us insights into the metabolic pathways and networks critical to bacterial survival in these niches. This has broad applications in public health and food safety and also in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, since critical areas of metabolism may present alternative targets to current antibiotic therapies.
Our current projects include investigating the molecular mechanisms used by Salmonella Typhi to survive inside the human gallbladder – known as the carrier state.
We use genomics techniques such as long-read sequencing to identify large-scale genome rearrangements in bacterial genomes. We also perform whole-genome sequencing to look for smaller mutations and relate these to changes or losses of protein function.
Using bioinformatic approaches, we are constructing genome scale metabolic models of Salmonella to help us analyse experimental data produced from our high throughput transposon mutagenesis screens and expression studies.