Effects of antimicrobial fatty acids on bacterial physiology
Host fatty acids hold dual roles during infection, modulating an immune response and directly killing invading bacteria.
The primary antimicrobial host fatty acids are the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid and the omega-6 fatty acids arachidonic acid. The relative dietary intake of these fatty acids has shifted from 1:1, to a dramatic 20-fold relative increase in the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids. This has been associated with an increased risk of developing severe bacterial infections and omega-3 supplementation studies have shown a decrease in the incidence of respiratory infections.
Our research has shown that the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid also exerts a greater antimicrobial activity upon major respiratory pathogens as compared to the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid.
Our current research examines how these host fatty acids exert their antimicrobial activity upon S. pneumoniae and A. baumannii, and which molecular mechanisms are employed by these pathogens to overcome their toxicity.
Study with the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases
The Research Centre for Infectious Diseases (RCID) is a major initiative of the School of Biological Sciences and is central to the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology's 'infectious diseases' research theme.
RCID aims to be the pre-eminent Australian Centre of Excellence in research into the pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of bacterial infectious diseases, and to play a leading role in international collaborative efforts to fight these infections.
The study of bacterial pathogenesis has changed dramatically in recent years due to revolutionary technological developments and availability of advanced molecular and cellular tools for investigation of the pathogen-host interface.
The RCID brings together established and emerging researchers with synergistic skills that is rapidly accelerating basic research into bacterial infectious disease pathogenesis. This knowledge is also enabling us to translate basic discoveries into improved health outcomes. We are achieving this by focusing our research efforts in three specific areas:
- Basic bacterial pathogenesis and target discovery
- Vaccine development
- Novel anti-infectives and therapeutics
Co-supervisors: Professor Anton Peleg, Dr Jhih-Hang Jiang - Monash University | Professor Charles Rock - St Jude Children’s Hospital | Professor Ian Paulsen - Macquarie University | Professor James Paton - University of Adelaide
Research area: Research Centre for Infectious Diseases
Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Molecular and Biomedical Science