BSB Seminar: The battle for nutrients at the host-pathogen interface: They are what you eat

Dr Bart Eijkelkamp, Senior Lecturer and Group Leader, Flinders University

Abstract

Nutritional deficiencies are a leading cause of human susceptibility to infectious diseases and antibiotic treatment failure. Specifically, our intake of dietary lipids has changed dramatically, yet microbe-lipid interactions during infection are poorly understood. The Eijkelkamp lab studies the balance between the making and taking of distinct fatty acids by bacterial pathogens and explores avenues to change the host fatty acid composition to promote bacterial clearance and enhance treatment efficacy. We have shown that bacterial pathogens have evolved efficient means to acquire host fatty acids, but that this is niche specific. Further, the ability of some bacteria to selectively acquire beneficial fatty acids, whilst concurrently preventing the uptake of antimicrobial fatty acids, is not conserved across all pathogens. Collectively, the bacterial desire for fatty acids may present a possible weakness, as dietary lipid interventions could be used as strategy to prevent bacterial infections and optimise treatment efficacy.

Biography

Dr Bart Eijkelkamp completed his Master's degree in Biomolecular Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2007. In the following year he commenced his PhD at Flinders University, investigating the antimicrobial resistance and virulence features of bacterial pathogens. Upon completion of his PhD, Bart took up a position as a post-doctoral researcher in the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases at the University of Adelaide. He continued his research into the resistance and virulence features of major bacterial pathogens, with a focus on the role of metal ions and host lipids on bacterial fitness. Whilst at the University of Adelaide, Bart was awarded a Beacon Research Fellowship which allowed him to establish his own research group. In 2019, he returned to Flinders University where he continued as a Senior Lecturer in Microbiology and research Group Leader. The Eijkelkamp Laboratory (www.EijkelkampLab.com) examines how the host nutritional status affects bacteria during infection.