The aim of our research is to understand how foodborne pathogenic E. coli (EHEC, EPEC, EAEC) cause disease in the human gut, threaten food safety, and how they develop resistance to antimicrobials. Results from our research contribute to the development of more reliable diagnostic, prevention and treatment strategies, as well as a greater understanding of the microbiome.
In particular, we are interested in how the intestinal environment influences bacterial virulence gene expression and pathogenesis. We are using advanced cell and tissue-based model systems (in vitro organ culture of human intestinal biopsies, microaerobic vertical diffusion chamber, mucin-producing cell lines), molecular biology (gene and protein expression analysis, gene mutagenesis), and cell imaging (fluorescence, confocal and electron microscopy) to investigate the interactions between pathogenic E. coli, gut commensal bacteria and human intestinal mucosa.
We are closely collaborating with gastroenterologists at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, Public Health England, and other research groups nationally and internationally.
Image credit: Scanning electron micrograph of enteropathogenic E. coli binding to human small intestinal epithelium. Image taken by Dr Stephanie Schüller.