Laboratory for Bacterial Evolution and Pathogenesis (LBEP)

LBEP contribution to Microbiology Society Annual Meeting 2018

Microbiology Society Annual Meeting 2018, Birmingham

The LBEP team travelled to Birmingham to attend the 2018 Microbiology Society Annual Meeting (10-13 April), were we had the opportunity to share our research with national and international colleagues.

Our group leader Ross was invited to give a talk entitled “Gene exchange drives the ecological success of a multi-host bacterial pathogen” in which he provided a nice overview some of the latest results from the LBEP group regarding S. aureus and S. pseudintermedius host adaptation.

Other members of the team were also selected to communicate their research.

Amy presented the poster “Characterization of the host-specificity of Staphylococcus pseudintermedius surface protein L (SpsL) and its role in the pathogenesis of skin disease” (P134). Amy studied Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, a major canine skin pathogen and a zoonotic pathogen of humans. Specifically, she investigated the role of SpsL (a cell wall-associated protein of S. pseudintermedius) using a mouse model and demonstrated that this protein is required for the development of skin abscesses. Also, this protein binds to canine fibrinogen more strongly than to human fibrinogen, which confirms host specificity.

Bryan presented his poster entitled “Genomic evolutionary history of Legionnaires’ disease in Scotland” (P449). Bryan analysed the largest and most genetically diverse population genomics study of Legionella pneumophila to date, showing that the strains responsible for Legionnaires’ disease in Scotland are representative of the whole worldwide diversity. He also found that the Legionella lipopolysaccharide may play a key role in allowing the bacteria to infect humans irrespective of the lineage they belong to.

Manouk presented the poster “Identification of a Staphylococcal Complement Inhibitor with broad host specificity in equid S. aureus strains” (P082). Manouk studied the phage phiSaeq1, integrated in the genome of Staphylococcus aureus strains found in horses. This phage contains a novel variant of the Staphylococcal Complement Inhibitor (SCIN) virulence protein, which helps S. aureus to evade the host immune response. She demonstrated how this novel SCIN variant is specifically adapted to combat the horse immune system due to host adaptation.

Finally, Rebecca defended the poster “Population metagenomics of the porcine pathogen Lawsonia intracellularis” (P450). Rebecca analysed the genome of the understudied bacterium Lawsonia intracellularis, which causes intestinal disease in many mammals. She could generate 21 new genomes from samples of pigs and horses from different countries. Her analyses revealed the presence of different lineages that, however, showed very limited diversity regardless of the sampling site. More analyses are needed to find out why strains from all lineages can cause the severe form of the disease despite being genetically similar.