Can we use bacteriocins to improve gut health?


Many bacteria produce antimicrobial compounds to help them compete in mixed communities. Antimicrobial peptides, called bacteriocins, from food and dairy strains have already been exploited successfully to prevent food poisoning or mastitis. Gene clusters producing these bacteriocins are increasingly being discovered in gut bacteria or metagenomes. The gut microbiome is known to play a critical role in our health and disease and has been associated with obesity, diabetes, colon cancers and the development of cognitive disorders via the gut-brain-axis. We want to determine whether bacteriocins have the potential to modulate the complex human gut microbiome and provide a novel approach to shape microbiomes towards a healthy outcome.

This project will build on past and current projects on bacteriocin discovery, in vitro colon model fermentations and gut microbiome and metabolome analysis to investigate bacteriocin expression in gut conditions and the effect on the composition and function of the microbiota from both healthy and unhealthy microbiomes.

Quadram Institute Bioscience is at the forefront of examining the relationships between gut bacteria, health and diet. The Narbad group has significant experience in understanding interactions between the gut microbiota and the gastrointestinal tract and developing biocontrol strategies to target gut pathogens, while the metabolomic expertise of the Le Gall group will make this project truly multidisciplinary. The applicant will join a diverse and dynamic interdisciplinary team. The workplan will involve training in state of the art techniques from experienced scientists and the applicant will also have the opportunity to interact with related projects. We are looking for a highly self-motivated individual who is capable of independent thinking with an aptitude for laboratory work and a strong interest in microbiology and biochemistry.


1. Production of multiple bacteriocins, including the novel bacteriocin gassericin M, by Lactobacillus gasseri LM19, a strain isolated from human milk. Garcia-Gutierrez E, O’Connor PM, Colquhoun IJ, Vior NM, Rodríguez JM, Mayer MJ, Cotter PD, Narbad A. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2020 May;104(9):3869-3884. doi: 10.1007/s00253-020-10493-3.

2. Multifunctional properties of Lactobacillus plantarum strains isolated from fermented cereal foods. Oguntoyinbo F, Narbad A. J Func Foods 2015 17:621-631.

3. Discovery of a novel lantibiotic nisin O from Blautia obeum A2-162, isolated from the human gastrointestinal tract. Hatziioanou D, Gherghisan-Filip C, Saalbach G, Horn N, Wegmann U, Duncan SH, Flint HJ, Mayer MJ, Narbad A. Microbiology-SGM 2017 163(9):1292-1305 doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000515.