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Effect of predation on virulence traits of opportunistic pathogens

Funding: 2017: $137,500
2018: $124,500
2019: $117,500

Project Member(s): McDougald, S.

Funding or Partner Organisation: Australian Research Council (ARC Discovery Projects)

Start year: 2017

Summary: The project aims to determine if increased fitness of bacteria in animal or human hosts (increased virulence) can occur due to indirect rather than direct selective pressure, particularly pressure on bacteria arising from predation by protozoa. Protozoa feed on many pathogenic bacteria (e.g. those that cause cholera and chronic infections) in the ocean and predation is predicted to increase in line with increasing ocean temperature. Knowledge of the impact of warming oceans on marine bacteria and of mechanisms associated with the emergence of virulence in bacteria that are subject to predation in the environment can inform design of tools for monitoring the risk of infection outbreaks, benefiting those who deliver health services.


Espinoza-Vergara, G, Hoque, MM, McDougald, D & Noorian, P 2020, 'The Impact of Protozoan Predation on the Pathogenicity of Vibrio cholerae', Frontiers in Microbiology, vol. 11, p. 17.
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Espinoza-Vergara, G, Noorian, P, Silva-Valenzuela, CA, Raymond, BBA, Allen, C, Hoque, MM, Sun, S, Johnson, MS, Pernice, M, Kjelleberg, S, Djordjevic, SP, Labbate, M, Camilli, A & McDougald, D 2019, 'Vibrio cholerae residing in food vacuoles expelled by protozoa are more infectious in vivo', Nature Microbiology, vol. 4, no. 12, pp. 2466-2474.
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Sun, S, Noorian, P & McDougald, D 2018, 'Dual Role of Mechanisms Involved in Resistance to Predation by Protozoa and Virulence to Humans', Frontiers in Microbiology, vol. 9, no. MAY.
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Noorian, P, Hu, J, Chen, Z, Kjelleberg, S, Wilkins, MR, Sun, S & McDougald, D 2017, 'Pyomelanin produced by Vibrio cholerae confers resistance to predation by Acanthamoeba castellanii', FEMS Microbiology Ecology, vol. 93, no. 12, pp. 1-10.
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FOR Codes: Infectious Agents, Microbial Genetics, Microbial Ecology, Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences, Infectious Diseases, Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Coastal and Estuarine Environments, Microbial genetics , Coastal and estuarine systems and management, Clinical health, EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE