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Characterising the impact of the microbiome on AMR gene transmission

   Institute of Microbiology and Infection

  Dr Michelle Buckner  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Research interests/description of main research theme:

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major crisis for human medicine. Globally, untreatable bacterial infections are rapidly increasing, leaving us with limited treatment options. Gram-negative Enterobacteriacea such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae with 3rd generation cephalosporin and carbapenem resistance are classified as critical priorities by the WHO. An important characteristic of bacteria is their ability to share genetic information, including antimicrobial resistance genes, via mobile-genetic elements such as plasmids. Plasmids can share genes for resistance to clinically important antibiotics such as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation b-lactam/cephalosporin antibiotics (the most widely used antibiotics in England), carbapenem antibiotics, and even drugs-of-last-resort e.g. colistin.  Evidence indicates that clinically-relevant AMR plasmids persist in the absence of antibiotics. Pathogens with plasmids carrying AMR genes are responsible for some of the most difficult to treat and often multi-drug resistant infections. 

Worryingly, AMR plasmids are frequently found in the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome, where for example, they can be acquired after travel to countries with high AMR levels, or after medical care. Indeed, the prevalence of bacteria with clinically important AMR genes within the human and animal microbiome is increasing. This makes the microbiome an important reservoir of AMR, and a key environment where transmission is likely to occur. We propose using a combination of classical and fluorescent based techniques to monitor AMR plasmid dynamics within the microbiome, and to explore the impact of the microbiome on AMR plasmid dynamics.


Person Specification

Applicants should have a strong background in microbiology, and ideally a background in immunology, infection, or biochemistry. They should have a commitment to research in antimicrobial resistance and hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in microbiology.

How to apply

Informal enquiries should be directed to

Applications should be directed to Michelle Buckner (email ). To apply, please send:

•             A detailed CV, including your nationality and country of birth;

•             Names and addresses of two referees;

•             A covering letter highlighting your research experience/capabilities;

•             Copies of your degree certificates with transcripts;

•             Evidence of your proficiency in the English language, if applicable.


1. Buckner MM, Ciusa ML, Meek RW, Moorey AR, McCallum GE, Prentice EL, Reid JP, Alderwick L, Di Maio A, Piddock LJ. HIV drugs inhibit transfer of plasmids carrying extended-spectrum -lactamase and carbapenemase genes. 2020. mBio Vol 11 no 1 e03355-19 doi 10.1128/mBio.03355-19

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