Engineering the microbiome to expose the functional biogeography of the gut

Year of award: 2018


  • Dr David Riglar

    Imperial College London

Project summary

The human gut houses a dense population of microbes that profoundly influence our health. This microbiome has been linked to susceptibility to a wide range of diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and even mental health problems. For this reason, the gut microbiome is a highly attractive target for use in the treatment and prevention of disease. There are many important details about the gut that remain poorly understood and gut bacteria are ideally situated to provide information about their surroundings.

We will use synthetic biology approaches to engineer bacteria to sense and record information about disease while traveling through the gut. Using these engineered tools, combined with advanced methods to visualise and probe bacteria inside the gut, we will investigate how the microbiome varies in its function at different locations.

Our findings could help us to develop new diagnostics and treatments for diseases that have a profound impact on global human health.