Bacteria may seem like simple organisms on a cellular level, but unlike plant and animal cells they are exposed to and have to deal with a constantly changing physical and chemical environment. They can quickly swim away from a hostile environment or they can adapt themselves so they can deal with the new environmental conditions. We are searching for the environmental signals that are detected by bacteria as well as the specific mechanisms that help them flourish in certain environments.
Reducing public health risk
We focus on gut bacteria, especially Campylobacter jejuni. Despite the huge numbers of Campylobacter infections worldwide, the virulence mechanism of C. jejuni, including the cause of the diarrhea, is still an enigma. Although there is increasing evidence that poultry is the number one contributor to disease in humans, no effective strategy exists to reduce the Campylobacter prevalence in broiler flocks. We investigate factors that have been associated with pathogenesis such as flagella-driven motility, chemotaxis, protein secretion, toxin production, adhesion and invasion of eukaryotic cells, metabolic adaptation and phospholipid composition in order to find a way to reduce the public health risk of campylobacteriosis.