Campylobacter genomics: host specific phenotypes and antibiotic resistance in the farmyard
Campylobacteriosis is the primary cause of bacterial induced gastroenteritis in the UK. Contaminated retail poultry and meat is recognised as a primary source of infection. We have over 300 different farmyard isolates of Campylobacter jejuni and whole genome sequence data (WGS) for 140 of these. This bank of strains includes subtypes of C. jejuni that are commonly associated with chicken colonisation and human disease, as well as more specialised strains that appear to be adapted to a specific niche. We are interested in understanding factors that enhance growth and survival of C. jejuni in specific hosts and in the environment and how this knowledge can be applied to understanding disease and carriage of C. jejuni. For example, we have recently demonstrated the unusual ability of a small subgroup of C jejuni to catabolise glucose. Why do only a subset of strains carry the glc locus that permits glucose utilisation? Does glucose catabolism enhance colonisation of certain animals/ survival of this microaerophile to oxidative stress? How readily can this genetic locus be transferred to other strains and how stable is it? What is the distribution of antibiotic resistance markers among these strains? These are examples of questions that can be addressed within this project. The project will be primarily laboratory based but also include bioinformatic analysis of WGS data.