The research interests of our group are on the microbial ecology of the gastrointestinal tract and the role of the complex gut microbiome in health and disease. We are isolating and characterising strains of gut bacteria that can outcompete pathogenic bacteria, for use in animals to improve food safety by reducing pathogenic bacteria in the food chain and reducing foodborne infections. We are also looking to use competitive exclusion in humans to combat bacterial infections. This, alongside other work in our group identifying and characterising novel antimicrobials, could help overcome the rise of antimicrobial resistance by reducing the need for antibiotics.
We use a combination of techniques, including in vitro colon models, tissue culture, metagenomics, metabolomics, to investigate methods of competitive exclusion with the objective of designing probiotic strains with improved functionality. We also carry out human intervention and clinical trials.
We have, with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, set up a bacteriotherapy service that is currently being used successfully to treat recurrent Clostridium difficile infection.
We are also involved in the development of improved diagnostics for gastrointestinal infections could lead to a more accurate and rapid treatment for patients. Our group is identifying antimicrobial biomolecules such as bacteriophage endolysins and antimicrobial peptides with abilities to target gut pathogens such as Clostridium difficile and Clostridium perfringens.
We have expertise in understanding gut microbial communities, and external factors that influence their dynamics. We are applying this to the study of the impact of antimicrobials, as well as the effects of dietary components on the gut microbial ecology. This includes analysis of how gut bacteria transform bioactive food molecules, linking with QI research into bioactives, as well as the microbial dynamics of natural food fermentations.