Department of Biology & Biochemistry
susanne gebhard

Senior Lecturer

4 South 0.24
Tel: +44 (0)1225 386421

Twitter: @GebhardLab


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

Bacteria are found in almost any habitat on Earth, and one key to their success is their extraordinary ability to monitor their environment and respond to changes and stresses they might encounter. They achieve this by means of sophisticated signalling pathways that can relay specific information from the outside to the inside of the cell and trigger the most appropriate response.

My group is interested in understanding how these signalling systems work, what information they gather, how the different protein components communicate, which genes are switched on or off as a result of signalling, and how these responses adapt the bacterium to the encountered stress. Our work is focussed in two main areas.

Antibiotic stress responses

The first step in antibiotic resistance very often is the detection of the drug by the bacterium, which leads to activation of dedicated resistance systems that protect the cell. Using a combination of in vivo and in vitro approaches, supported by bioinformatics and mathematical modelling, we study signalling pathways involved in resistance against cell wall antibiotics in the Gram-positive bacteria Bacillus subtilis and Enterococcus faecalis. Sub-projects range from mechanistic investigations of individual signalling pathways to systems-level investigation of whole regulatory networks. Ultimately, if we can fully understand these processes, it may be possible to design drugs that can avoid detection and thereby bypass resistance.

Environmental stress

Many bacteria are uniquely adapted to very stressful environments where they might encounter extreme conditions of pH, temperature or salinity, to name a few. We are interested in finding bacteria in natural habitats that reflect conditions found in the built environment, e.g. concrete or similar building materials. If these bacteria also possess the ability to precipitate calcite minerals, they can be harnessed for industrial applications, e.g. in self-healing bio-concrete, where they can heal micro-fractures to prevent more serious damage to buildings or structures like bridges or tunnels. In an interdisciplinary collaboration with civil engineers and material scientists we are aiming to take this project from the natural environment to commercial application.


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 Mon Oct 16 11:33:58 2017 IST.

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