John Whitney, PhD

John Whitney, PhD

Assistant Professor,
Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences

Member, Michael DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research

MDCL 2108
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 22280


  • 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.

Bacterial Adhesion:
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.).

Visit John Whitney’s Homepage