Infection and immunity
The Infection and Immunity theme deals with a broad range of questions relating to the interactions between pathogenic bacteria and their human, insect or plant hosts. At the most theoretical level, this includes attempts to understand the evolutionary and ecological conditions which determine whether bacteria act as benign colonisers or deadly killers. At a more applied level, research is also being conducted in to the detection and development of novel antimicrobials to combat the rise of antibiotic resistance.
Of the human pathogens, a strong focus is on Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and work in the department includes studies on the epidemiology (spread) of this superbug across continents, the molecular basis of virulence and how this species manages to evade the human immune system. There is also considerable interest in comparing the evolutionary and molecular processes involved in diseases of humans, insects and plants and innate immune responses of the different hosts to infection.
These studies are of both of wide interest and practical relevance, for example to the management of disease in honey bees. Important research carried out on virulence and recognition of plant pathogenic bacteria (and fungi), centres on those of major commercial relevance.
Infection and immunity research theme membership
Dr Stefan Bagby
Structure and function of proteins involved in organ size control and stem cell self-maintenance, memory and bacterial infections
Dr Richard Cooper
Mechanisms of microbial pathogenicity and host plant defence in temperate and tropical species
Dr Jean van den Elsen
Structural and physico-chemical characteristics of proteins, their physiologically relevant complexes and modifications with the aim to understand the molecular processes of life, especially those involved in health and disease
Dr Ed Feil
Bacterial population structures and recombination and virulence factors in Staphylococcus aureus
Dr Ruth Massey
Host-pathogen interactions: Staphylococcus aureus and humans
Dr Nick Waterfield
Using invertebrate models to study the molecular basis of bacterial pathogenicity and how insect associated bacteria represent a reservoir for the evolution of emerging human pathogens
Dr Alan Wheals
Rapid molecular identification of yeasts of medical or commercial importance
Dr Will Wood
Cell migration and chemotaxis