Growing team investigates antibiotic resistance

Posted on 23rd October 2013

Based at the Environment and Sustainability Institute’s laboratories in Penryn, the Centre’s Microbial Systems group has been quietly growing over the summer.

With the recruitment of 3 new PhD students and several technicians and visiting students, the team’s research into how antibiotic resistance can develop in the environment is in full swing.

Led by senior researcher’s Dr William Gaze and Dr Michiel Vos, the Microbial Systems group are aiming to understand the ecology and evolution of opportunistic pathogens – bacteria and viruses that only cause infection under certain circumstances.

A major focus of this research is investigating the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in the environment, including how pollution can influence its evolution and how we can be exposed to resistant microbes through natural environments such as bathing water.

The team are also considering how bacteria and their parasitic viruses can evolve together, and how genes are transferred between different bacteria. They are working closely with organisations in the South West, notably AstraZeneca and Aquatic Water Services, to help their findings deliver useful applications.

Being located away from the Centre’s main base in Truro provides the team with several opportunities and challenges, which Dr Michiel Vos regularly discusses in his coastal pathogens blog.

For regular updates on what the Centre’s team at ESI have been up to, visit

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