John Whitney, PhD
- Interbacterial competition
- Microbial communities
- Bacterial cell surface structures
- Structure/function of bacterial toxins
Type VI Secretion:
The bacterial type VI secretion system is a recently identified protein translocation pathway used by Gram-negative bacteria to deliver toxins to neighbouring bacteria in a cell contact-dependent manner. We are interested in understanding how these antibacterial proteins are transported from one cell to another and how they exert toxicity once delivered to a target cell. By understanding the molecular principles underlying this process it is our long term goal to be able to rationally manipulate bacterial populations relevant to human health.
Many species of bacteria exist in dense cellular aggregates held together by bacterially produced exopolysaccharides. In this form, bacteria are difficult to eradicate due in part to decreased efficacy of antibiotics. We are interested in determining how bacterial exopolysaccharides are synthesized and exported from the cell. By understanding how this process occurs at the molecular level, we hope to one day be able to inhibit exopolysaccharide secretion under circumstances where it is detrimental to human activities (i.e. biofouling of pipes, colonization of indwelling medical devices, etc.).