Discovery of antibiotic resistance gene dispersal networks in the human gastrointestinal microbiota

Research area

 |  antibiotic resistance


 |  antibiotic resistance, antibiotic, antimicrobial Resistance, AMR, microbiology, microbiota, bioinformatics, genomics, microbiome, computational biology


 |  PhD/Doctorate, Honours

Project description

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is emerging at an alarming level, rendering some bacterial infections untreatable and increasing dependence on last line antibiotics. There is an urgent need to provide clinicians with the data to inform antibiotic selection that will optimise treatment success, while minimizing the spread of resistance and dispersal of antibiotic resistance genes. Despite the bacterial diversity within our microbiota, current understandings of the genetic factors that confer resistance are almost exclusively limited to pathogenic or opportunistic organisms. For example, in the human gastrointestinal tract, there are 100 trillion bacteria, representing more than 500 species, which are exposed to antibiotic selection during oral antibiotic treatment. The resistance mechanisms in these commensal bacteria remain largely undefined, despite representing a significant, hidden source of antibiotic resistance genes that could be transferred to pathogenic or other commensal bacterial species.

We have recently developed methods to culture the vast majority of the human gastrointestinal microbiota providing an important resource to undertake these studies. This project combines detailed genomic sequence analysis with advanced microbiology experimental techniques to understand and monitor the diversity and distribution of antibiotic resistance within the human gastrointestinal microbiota.

The Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases is a world leader in infection and inflammation with a strong record of student training and development. Please feel free to contact Assoc. Prof. Sam Forster ( or Dr Emily Gulliver ( for further information.