This is the fourth interview with the PhD students of the Metagenomics projects in a series of 8 background articles. Keep following this website for the next interview in this series.
Interview with Doris van Bergeijk, PhD student of the project ‘The effect of host-microbe interactions on the secondary metabolism of actinomycetes’ at Leiden University (Institute of Biology Leiden).
‘My interest in antibiotic research started during a microbiology course in the second year of my bachelor. We had to test bacteria from the sewage against different antibiotics and I was shocked by their multi-drug resistance. To me it was clear that we were in need of new antibiotics (or alternatives) and I am very excited that I am now working on a project that will hopefully contribute to the discovery of new antibiotics.’
‘Actinomycetes are filamentous bacteria that are well known for their antibiotic production. Sequencing has shown that the genomes of actinomycetes contain a wealth of undiscovered biosynthetic gene clusters and this discovery has spiked research into this direction. Signals from the host/environment of these bacteria might influence the expression of these clusters. I aim to find host-specific signals, for example stress hormones, that can influence the antibiotic production with the ultimate goal to use actinomycetes to control microbial infections.’
‘So far, I have discovered that certain signaling molecules indeed influence the antibiotic production of actinomycetes. I now aim to identify the biosynthetic gene clusters that respond to these hormones and the corresponding metabolites. Additionally, I have had the unique opportunity to isolate and sequence actinomycetes from mammoth stool. This data, together with the metagenomics data of the gut microbiome of the mammoth, allows us to study bacteria from the past and analyse the biosynthetic gene clusters that are present. Hopefully this can give us insight in the way these genes have developed over time and what role actinomycetes can play in the protection of higher organisms.’
The NCOH wants to build a research programme which sharpens the NCOH profile and increases scientific production of the NCOH during its first mandate period. This goal is reached by accelerating the investments of NCOH Partners.
People who live near livestock farms have an increased risk of pneumonia. In areas with many livestock farms, the presence of a farm can explain up to 20% of all lung infection cases, but the pathogens responsible are as yet unknown. Researchers from Utrecht University’s Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Erasmus MC, and UMC Utrecht...
ESBL is an enzyme, produced by certain bacteria, which makes these bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Researchers from various institutes collaborating in a large consortium discovered that ESBLs occur frequently in livestock, the food chain, the environment and also in humans.
Bacteriophages received considerable attention in the lay press in the Netherlands recently. To optimally design trials to provide the necessary evidence UMC Utrecht invited international experts in bacteriophage therapy to present their experiences with this approach on 22 February in Utrecht.