Transfer of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens

Main area:Microbiology
Target group:Biology, Molecular Biomedicine, Biochemistry
Educational level:Masters
Project description:

Staphylococcus aureus is a serious human pathogen and the methicillin resistant strains, the MRSAs, are a growing problem in human infections which can be acquired in hospitals, in the community or from farm animals known as “pig MRSA”. Bacterial viruses, the bacteriophages (phages), are important for host specificity of MRSA and recently we have demonstrated that lysogenic phages enable staphylococcal strains to acquire antibiotic resistance genes in part explaining why S. aureus strains so easily become resistant to antibiotics (Haaber et al. Nature Communications, 7: 13333, 2016).

Are you interested in working with S. aureus, MRSA and the role of phages in transfer of antibiotic resistance genes and host specificity? And are you interested in doing it in a collaboration between two UCPH departments? Then we might have a master thesis project for you addressing some of the following questions: 

  • What are the molecular mechanisms behind spontaneous phage release?
  • Which environmental cues does the phage repressor respond to?
  • Is quorum sensing involved in transition between lysogenic and lytic states of the phage?
  • Will phages transfer bacterial DNA between different lysogenic cells in the absence of any lytic proliferation?
  • Under which conditions are phages transferred from animal to human strains?
  • Which antibiotic resistance genes and mobile genetic elements can be transferred by phages? 

If you are interested please contact either: Hanne Ingmer ( at Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences or Sine Lo Svenningsen ( at Department of Biology

Supervisor(s): Hanne Ingmer ( and Sine Lo Svenningsen (