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Research focus

There are two main research themes in the group.

1. Functional analysis of the gut microbiome and its diet related activity

Our interest is to understand how the gut microbiota use diet to influence and disease health outcomes. We are interested in investigating microbial activities affecting gut mucosal health and nutrient absorption, energy harvesting, weight gain, among others using functional metagenomic approaches. Other activities include developing cell-based and cell-free assays to investigate metabolites and microbial products in the gut.

2. Bioprospecting of valuable biomolecules from microbial communities

Our interest is to use functional metagenomic and combinatorial approaches to discover valuable biomolecules relevant for health and biotechnological applications. Biomolecules of interest include antimicrobial agents, carbohydrate, dietary fibre and bile salt hydrolases. Other activities include developing molecular platforms for screening microbes.

Disease Areas

  1. Infant and Paediatric Malnutrition
  2. Sickle Cell Diseases
  3. Antimicrobial chemotherapy and resistance
  4. Infection and immunity

Our Approaches and Technologies

  1. Sequence (NGS) based characterization of the microbiome
  2. Functional screening of µbCommunituies for novel enzymes and antimicrobials
  3. Metagenomic library construction and screening
  4. Target identification and characterization
  5. Dietary and nutrient assessments
  6. Cell-based and cell-free screening for gut microbiota activity
  7. Anthropometric assessments including body composition analysis

Current/Ongoing Research Projects

  1. Interplay between the gut microbiome, metabolism and nutrition among obese persons
  2. Relationship between the gut microbiome, infant nutrition and nutrition practices
  3. Antimicrobial screening from microbial communities
  4. Investigation dietary degrading enzymes and products

Key Facilities

We are passionate about research collaborations and are open to collaborate with anyone who shares similar interests or has ideas that can be merged. Our facilities are open for use on such collaborations. Other forms of use can be discussed. Some of the key facilities we have include but not limited to the following:

  1. Thermocyclers (PCR machines); An array of 24, 48 and 96 wells
  2. Electrophoresis apparatus for DNA, protein and other custom applications
  3. Gel documentation and analysis system
  4. Microbiological culture systems (aerobic and anaerobic using gas packs and jars)
  5. Nucleic acid extraction systems including capability for microtube bead bashing applications
  6. Shaking/orbital & static incubators and drying ovens
  7. Applied Biosystems Model 140C Microgradient delivery system HPLC with variable wavelength UV detector
  8. Portable pH meters
  9. UV/vis spectrophotometers
  10. Microplate washer and reader systems with various wavelengths
  11. Other basic laboratory infrastructure