Research activity within the group centres on an interest in the mechanisms that food-borne bacterial pathogens use to respond and adapt to environmental perturbations. There is a particular focus on understanding the role and regulation of stress sigma factors, which are required to stress adaptation. Research projects have focussed on important bacterial pathogens including Salmonella Typhimurium, Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes, all of which cause significant food-borne infections in humans. This research is essential to develop a more complete understanding of how bacterial cells grow and persist in the environment. An understanding of how these pathogens adapt to their environment will also be central to any strategy aimed at curbing their growth both within the host and within the food-chain.
Currently several projects focus on understanding the molecular responses to stress in the human pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, including its responses to light, acidic conditions, and increased osmolarity. Another research avenue within the group at present is the identification of novel host association factors expressed within the gastrointestinal microbiota.
The Bacterial Stress Response Group (www.nuigalway.ie/microbiology/cpoblab/) was established in 2000 in the University of Aberdeen and then relocated to NUI Galway in 2002. Since the group’s inception 15 PhD students, 8 MSc students and over 60 final year project students have successfully completed their degrees under my supervision. The group has attracted over 10 million euro in competitive research funding from both national and international sources.
For publications see: http://www.nuigalway.ie/science/staff-profiles/conorobyrne/