Effects of antimicrobial fatty acids on bacterial physiology

Bart Eijkelkamp - rnd-efflux

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.

Bart Eijkelkamp


Dr Bart Eijkelkamp

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

Tagged in Honours projects - Molecular and biomedical science, Honours projects - Molecular and biomedical science: Microbiology and immunology, Honours projects - Bart Eijkelkamp, Honours projects - James Paton