Research Area: Microbiology

Emma Allen-Vercoe

We currently have several projects in various areas that explore aspects of the gut microbiome and beyond:
1) Understanding how gut microbes are involved in the modulation of disease in colorectal cancer, diabetes, infection, and inflammatory bowel diseases
2) Isolation and characterisation of hunter-gatherer people's gut microbiome in an effort to discover novel microbial species and understand their function
3) Characterisation of the non-bacterial microbes of the human microbiome and their functions
4) Building model systems to study human gut microbes in vitro and in vivo
5) The study of 'oncomicrobes' (in particular, Fusobacterium nucleatum), and the development of colorectal cancer.
6) Translation to the clinic - development of 'microbial ecosystem therapeutics'

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Rebecca Shapiro

To better study the biology and virulence of fungal pathogens, we are developing new genomic technology platforms for diverse fungal species. We are exploiting CRISPR-Cas9 based technologies to revolutionize the way we do high-throughput functional genomic analysis in fungal pathogens. This is enabling us to map large-scale genetic interaction networks, and uncover genetic factors and pathways that mediate important phenotypes associated with pathogenesis, antifungal drug resistance, and other biological processes associated with fungal infectious diseases.

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Krassimir Yankulov

We use the budding yeast S.cerevisiae as a model organism to ask how established chromatin structure is preserved or changed during repetitive rounds of DNA replication, and how these structures are transmitted to daughter cells. We study the activity of chromatin factors that are highly conserved in all eukaryotes. Our specific focus is on cell-to-cell variations in gene expression. Most of these variations are mediated by chromatin. We know little about the mechanisms that confer these changes.

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Matthew Kimber

For bacteria, survival requires evading detection. Pathogens must evade their host, but all bacteria need to avoid being targeted by phages. Gram negative bacteria’s survival depends on lipopolysaccharide and capsule – highly complex carbohydrate molecules that coat their outer surface. The enzymes that produce these molecules are complex, drawing on a large set of basic modules but then tweaking and combining them into new organizations that accomplish unique ends. My lab is focused on understanding how the structures and large-scale architectures of these enzymes create the enormous variety of unique custom carbohydrates observed in nature. To this end, we use crystallography, enzymology, and a variety of biophysical assays and bioinformatics tools to better understand these proteins.

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Andreas Heyland

Dr. Heyland�s laboratory uses novel functional genomics approaches to study the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems of aquatic invertebrates. Specifically he investigates the function and evolution of hormonal and neurotransmitter signaling systems in the regulation of development and metamorphosis. His research includes Evolutionary development studies of marine invertebrate metamorphosis, eco-toxicogenomic approached to understand endocrine disruption in aquatic ecosystems and water remediation technologies. These projects are integrated with several national and international collaborations ranging form basic scientific work to industry partnerships.

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Rebecca Shapiro

We are interested in understanding complicated genetic networks in fungal pathogens. Focusing primarily on the common yeast pathogen Candida albicans and the emerging pathogen Candida auris, our lab is developing and optimizing novel CRISPR based functional genomic technologies and using them to modulate the fungal genome on a large scale. We are applying these technologies for large-scale functional genomic screening, in order to understand the genes and genetic interactions that underly fungal pathogenesis (including cellular morphogenesis and biofilm formation), the evolution of antifungal drug resistance.

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Karl Cottenie

In the next 5 years, I will shift my research strategy by consolidating 4 streams of my past research: temporal dynamics, host-symbiont interactions, small mammal metacommunity dynamics, and DNA-based species identification and bioinformatics. I will focus on a study system that combines my past strengths in metacommunity ecology at multiple scales, but will apply them to a novel system: microbial metacommunities nested within a matrix of metacommunity of different host species.

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Stephen Seah

We are interested in microbial enzymes involved in the steroid and aromatic compounds degradation. These enzymes are important for bioremediation of organic pollutants and are potential targets for development of antibiotics against tuberculosis. In collaboration with Dr. Ting Zhou at Agriculture Agri-food Canada, we are isolating and characterizing enzymes capable of detoxifying the mycotoxins, deoxynivalenol and patulin. These mycotoxins contaminate grains and fruit juices.

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Cezar Khursigara

The Khursigara Lab is part of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Guelph. Dr. Cezar Khursigara�s research focuses on understanding how bacterial pathogens respond to their environment to cause disease. They are particularly interested in factors involved in biofilm formation and chronic infection. His research group is taking a multidisciplinary approach to answer fundamental questions related to how bacteria form biofilms to cause persistent infections. By combining advanced systems biology and imaging techniques, his goal is to identify potential therapeutics that can target a broad spectrum of disease-causing bacteria.

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