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Lyras Lab research

CollaborationsStudent research projects | Publications

About Professor Dena Lyras

Professor Dena Lyras is the Deputy Director of the Biomedicine Discovery Institute and the Deputy Head of the Department of Microbiology, both at Monash University, and the President for the Australian Society for Microbiology. Her laboratory is focussed on enteric pathogens, particularly those involved in antibiotic-associated diarrhoea such as C. difficile, and they examine how these pathogens interact with the host and cause disease through the use of animal infection models. Her laboratory uses genetic approaches to understand how these micro-organisms harness regulatory and virulence factors to cause disease, and they are developing immunotherapeutics and small molecules to prevent and treat these infections in collaboration with industry partners. Antibiotic resistance and DNA mobility are also studied in her laboratory, in the context of gut pathogens and antibiotic-associated diarrhoeal disease.


Our research

Our laboratory is focused on gut pathogens, particularly those involved in antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, and we examine how these pathogens interact with the host and cause disease through the use of animal infection models. We use novel ways to genetically modify bacterial pathogens (including Clostridium difficile) of both human and animal origin. We are using this approach to understand how these micro-organisms harness regulatory and virulence factors to cause disease.

We are also developing immunotherapeutics and small molecules to prevent and treat infections by the hospital superbug Clostridium difficile. Lateral DNA transfer between bacterial pathogens is also a major study area, associated with antibiotic resistance or virulence gene transfer in the context of gut pathogens and antibiotic-associated diarrhoeal disease.

Current projects

1. Understanding the host immune response to C. difficile infection
2. Functional and genetic analysis of hospital antibiotic-associated diarrhoeal pathogens
3. Analysis of toxin secretion in the Large Clostridial Toxin (LCT) producing clostridia
4. The role of bacterial spores in disease and antibiotic resistance

Visit Professor Lyras' Monash research profile to see a full listing of current projects.

Research activities

A broad range of activities are performed, starting from anaerobic microbiology and in vitro testing of bacteria through to animal infection and translational  studies, the latter often in collaboration with industry partners.

  • The host response to enteric infection. Enteric infection induces a damaging host response that has long-lasting consequences. (Figure 1)
  • Bacterial sporulation, antibiotic resistance and disease. The bacterial spore form is important in host interactions, environmental survival and antibiotic resistance. (Figure 2)
  • Lateral gene transfer of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance genes disseminate rapidly between enteric pathogens.  (Figure 3)
  • Immunotherapeutic and small molecule development for enteric pathogens. Non-antibiotic alternatives are needed to treat infections with multi-resistant bacterial pathogens. (Figure 4)
Figure 1: Immunohistological staining of colonic tissue (Mileto & Lyras).

Figure 1: Immunohistological staining of colonic tissue (Mileto & Lyras).

Figure 2:  Transmission electron microscopy on P. sordellii spore (Rabi, Awad & Lyras).

Figure 2:  Transmission electron microscopy on P. sordellii spore (Rabi, Awad & Lyras).

Figure 3: A new family of C. difficile plasmids (Amy, Johanesen & Lyras).

Figure 3: A new family of C. difficile plasmids (Amy, Johanesen & Lyras).

Figure 4: Infection-mediated damage to the
small intestine (Larcombe, Hutton, Abud & Lyras).

Techniques/expertise

Molecular genetics of bacterial pathogens
Lateral gene transfer methodologies (in vitro and in vivo)
Tissue culture intoxications and infections
Animal infections
Tissue analysis (immunohistochemistry, imaging, digital droplet PCR)

Disease models

Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea mouse infection model (including acute infection and disease relapse)
Enteric pathogen colonisation mouse infection models
Enteric infection prevention and treatment mouse models


Collaborations

We collaborate with many scientists and research organisations around the world. Click on the map to see the details for each of these collaborators (dive into specific publications and outputs by clicking on the dots).


Student research projects

The Lyras Lab offers a variety of Honours, Masters and PhD projects for students interested in joining our group. There are also a number of short term research opportunities available.

Please visit Supervisor Connect to explore the projects currently available in the Lyras Lab.