Department of Biology & Biochemistry
susanne gebhard

Senior Lecturer



Dr Susanne Gebhard


Academic Biography

  • 2014-present Lecturer, University of Bath
  • 2014 Habilitation, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
  • 2009-2014 Junior Group Leader, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
  • 2006-2009 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Otago, NZ
  • 2003-2006 PhD, University of Otago, NZ
  • 2000 Graduate Diploma in Applied Science, University of Waikato, NZ
  • 1996-2003 Biology Diploma, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Germany

Research Interests

Antimicrobial resistance has become a major concern world-wide, with implications both for public health (inability to treat infections) and economics (increasing cost of treatment). A better understanding of resistance processes is therefore urgently needed. Our research focuses on a resistance mechanism against antimicrobial peptides, which is found in low GC Gram-positive bacteria and is based on self-sufficient, self-inducing detoxification modules.

Primarily, we are studying the BceRS-BceAB module of Bacillus subtilis, which confers resistance against, e.g., bacitracin or mersacidin. BceRS constitutes a two-component regulatory system that controls expression of the bceAB operon. The latter encodes an ABC-transporter that mediates the actual resistance, presumably by removal of the drug from its site of action. The unique feature of these modules is their absolute dependence on the ABC-transporter not only for resistance but also for detection of the antibiotic.

Using a combination of in vivo and in vitro approaches, supported by bioinformatics and mathematical modeling, we investigate the mechanisms underpinning each step of the resistance process: ligand binding, drug transport, communication within the module, and generation of the output result. We have recently described a similar system in Enterococcus faecalis. Here, the resistance pathway involves two transporters, one with a dedicated role in drug-detection and signaling, and a second transporter for resistance.

Comparison of the data obtained for these example systems will not only provide us with an understanding of the fundamental principles of resistance, but may further shed some light on the evolutionary origin of these systems or reveal fine-tuned adaptations of the two organisms to their respective environments.


Fang, C., Nagy-Staron, A., Grafe, M., Heermann, R., Jung, K., Gebhard, S. and Mascher, T., 2017. Insulation and wiring specificity of BceR-like response regulators and their target promoters in Bacillus subtilis. Molecular Microbiology, 104 (1), pp. 16-31.

Piepenbreier, H., Fritz, G. and Gebhard, S., 2017. Transporters as information processors in bacterial signalling pathways. Molecular Microbiology, 104 (1), pp. 1-15.

Kobras, C. M., Mascher, T. and Gebhard, S., 2016. Application of a Bacillus subtilis whole-cell biosensor (PliaI-lux) for the identification of cell wall active antibacterial compounds. In: Sass, P., ed. Antibiotics. New York. U. S. A.: Springer Verlag, pp. 121-131.

Willenbacher, J., Mohr, T., Henkel, M., Gebhard, S., Mascher, T., Syldatk, C. and Hausmann, R., 2016. Substitution of the native srfA promoter by constitutive Pveg in two B. subtilis strains and evaluation of the effect on surfactin production. Journal of Biotechnology, 224, pp. 14-17.

Radeck, J., Gebhard, S., Orchard, P. S., Kirchner, M., Bauer, S., Mascher, T. and Fritz, G., 2016. Anatomy of the bacitracin resistance network in Bacillus subtilis. Molecular Microbiology, 100 (4), pp. 607-620.

Gebhard, S. and Feil, E., 2016. ‘Resistance-proof’ antibiotics may never exist – but there are some promising alternatives. [Non-academic press]

Höfler, C., Heckmann, J., Fritsch, A., Popp, P., Gebhard, S., Fritz, G. and Mascher, T., 2016. Cannibalism stress response in Bacillus subtilis. Microbiology, 162 (1), pp. 164-176.

Fritz, G., Dintner, S., Treichel, N., Radeck, J., Gerland, U., Mascher, T. and Gebhard, S., 2015. A new way of sensing:need-based activation of antibiotic resistance by a flux-sensing mechanism. mBio, 6 (4), e00975-15.

Dintner, S., Heermann, R., Fang, C., Jung, K. and Gebhard, S., 2014. A Sensory Complex Consisting of an ATP-Binding-Cassette Transporter and a Two-Component Regulatory System Controls Bacitracin Resistance in Bacillus subtilis. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 289, 27899 - 27910.

Gebhard, S., Busby, J. N., Fritz, G., Moreland, N. J., Cook, G. M., Lott, J. S., Baker, E. N. and Money, V. A., 2014. Crystal Structure of PhnF, a GntR-Family Transcriptional Regulator of Phosphate Transport in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Journal of Bacteriology, 196 (19), pp. 3472-3481.

Gebhard, S. and Dintner, S., 2014. Peptidantibiotika — Frühwarnsysteme und Katastrophenschutz bei Bakterien. BIOspektrum, 20 (3), pp. 263-266.

Revilla-Guarinos, A., Gebhard, S., Mascher, T. and Zúñiga, M., 2014. Defence against antimicrobial peptides:Different strategies in Firmicutes. Environmental Microbiology, 16 (5), pp. 1225-1237.

Fang, C., Stiegeler, E., Cook, G. M., Mascher, T. and Gebhard, S., 2014. Bacillus subtilis as a Platform for Molecular Characterisation of Regulatory Mechanisms of Enterococcus faecalis Resistance against Cell Wall Antibiotics. PLoS ONE, 9 (3), e93169.

Gebhard, S., Fang, C., Shaaly, A., Leslie, D. J., Weimar, M. R., Kalamorz, F., Carne, A. and Cook, G. M., 2014. Identification and Characterization of a Bacitracin Resistance Network in Enterococcus faecalis. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 58 (3), pp. 1425-1433.

Kallenberg, F., Dintner, S., Schmitz, R. and Gebhard, S., 2013. Identification of Regions Important for Resistance and Signalling within the Antimicrobial Peptide Transporter BceAB of Bacillus subtilis. Journal of Bacteriology, 195 (14), pp. 3287-3297.

Shaaly, A., Kalamorz, F., Gebhard, S. and Cook, G. M., 2013. Undecaprenyl pyrophosphate phosphatase confers low-level resistance to bacitracin in Enterococcus faecalis. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 68 (7), pp. 1583-1593.

Revilla-Guarinos, A., Gebhard, S., Alcantara, C., Staron, A., Mascher, T. and Zuniga, M., 2013. Characterization of a Regulatory Network of Peptide Antibiotic Detoxification Modules in Lactobacillus casei BL23. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 79 (10), pp. 3160-3170.

Radeck, J., Kraft, K., Bartels, J., Cikovic, T., Dürr, F., Emenegger, J., Kelterborn, S., Sauer, C., Fritz, G., Gebhard, S. and Mascher, T., 2013. The Bacillus BioBrick Box:Generation and evaluation of essential genetic building blocks for standardized work with Bacillus subtilis. Journal of Biological Engineering, 7 (1), p. 29.

Gebhard, S., 2012. ABC transporters of antimicrobial peptides in Firmicutes bacteria - phylogeny, function and regulation. Molecular Microbiology, 86 (6), pp. 1295-1317.

Gebhard, S. and Mascher, T., 2011. Antimicrobial peptide sensing and detoxification modules:Unravelling the regulatory circuitry of Staphylococcus aureus. Molecular Microbiology, 81 (3), pp. 581-587.

Dintner, S., Staron, A., Berchtold, E., Petri, T., Mascher, T. and Gebhard, S., 2011. Coevolution of ABC Transporters and Two-Component Regulatory Systems as Resistance Modules against Antimicrobial Peptides in Firmicutes Bacteria. Journal of Bacteriology, 193 (15), pp. 3851-3862.

Hümpel, A., Gebhard, S., Cook, G. M. and Berney, M., 2010. The SigF Regulon in Mycobacterium smegmatis Reveals Roles in Adaptation to Stationary Phase, Heat, and Oxidative Stress. Journal of Bacteriology, 192 (10), pp. 2491-2502.

Gebhard, S., Gaballa, A., Helmann, J. D. and Cook, G. M., 2009. Direct stimulus perception and transcription activation by a membrane-bound DNA binding protein. Molecular Microbiology, 73 (3), pp. 482-491.

Gebhard, S., Ekanayaka, N. and Cook, G. M., 2009. The low-affinity phosphate transporter PitA is dispensable for in vitro growth of Mycobacterium smegmatis. BMC Microbiology, 9 (1), p. 254.

Cook, G. M., Berney, M., Gebhard, S., Heinemann, M., Cox, R. A., Danilchanka, O. and Niederweiss, M., 2009. Physiology of mycobacteria. In: Advances in Microbial Physiology.Vol. 55. Elsevier, pp. 81-182.

Gebhard, S., Hümpel, A., Mclellan, A. D. and Cook, G. M., 2008. The alternative sigma factor SigF of Mycobacterium smegmatis is required for survival of heat shock, acidic pH and oxidative stress. Microbiology, 154 (9), pp. 2786-2795.

Gauntlett, J. C., Gebhard, S., Keis, S., Manson, J. M., Pos, K. M. and Cook, G. M., 2008. Molecular Analysis of BcrR, a Membrane-bound Bacitracin Sensor and DNA-binding Protein from Enterococcus faecalis. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283 (13), pp. 8591-8600.

Gebhard, S. and Cook, G. M., 2008. Differential Regulation of High-Affinity Phosphate Transport Systems of Mycobacterium smegmatis: Identification of PhnF, a Repressor of the phnDCE Operon. Journal of Bacteriology, 190 (4), pp. 1335-1343.

This list was generated on Fri Jun 23 13:04:27 2017 IST.

View more publications »