The fate of multidrug tolerant bacteria: from single cells to microbial communities


  • Dr Mathew Stracy

    University of Oxford

Project summary

Many bacterial infections cannot be cured, even when caused by a pathogen that is not resistant to antibiotics. Central to this effect is the presence of a small population of cells called persisters that enter a dormant state that protects them from a broad range of antibiotics. After the treatment finishes, surviving persisters can resume growth causing recurrent and chronic infections. Eradicating persisters is a crucial step towards treating chronic infections.Persister cells are rare, which makes them difficult to study, and many questions about them remain. Persistence can be triggered by a variety of different mechanisms, but it is unknown if these different mechanisms lead to the same cell state and the same tolerance to antibiotics.

I will use advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques combined with microfluidics to identify persister cells and determine if different persistence pathways lead to different cell physiology and antibiotic tolerance. I will study how these cells revive from their dormant state and at what point they become susceptible again.