We study diverse topics related to bacterial survival under stress conditions. We use genetic approaches combined with "omics" analyses (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics) and advanced microscopy, as well as bioinformatics examinations and mathematical modelling. Research is performed both at population and at single-cell levels as well as during interaction with the eukaryotic host (cellular and animal models).
The primary focus is to uncover the basic molecular principles of bacterial persistence and how bacteria enter or exit this state. Understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms may help to develop new therapeutic approaches to combat pathogenic bacteria. From an evolutionary point of view, we explore how bacterial populations adapt persistence characteristics by genetic mutations or epigenetic modifications during fluctuating antibiotic regimens. In this context, we also examine the link between persistence and the evolution of genetic antibiotic resistance. We focus on the model bacterium Escherichia coli and several pathogenic species including the ESKAPE pathogens.
Closely in line with our work on persistence, we are investigating how host factors control the spread of antibiotic resistance through conjugative transfer. In addition, work on the persistence regulator ObgE serendipitously led to a third line of research that addresses cell cycle control.
A final line of research uses advanced genetic techniques to enhance survival of nitrogen-fixing rhizobia in a diverse collection of natural isolates. The major aim here is to improve survival of dormant Rhizobium in legume seed coatings by enhancing stress tolerance.
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