Penicillin binding proteins and peptidoglycan structure in Clostridium difficile

To survive in hostile environments, some bacteria produce a dormant and resilient cell form called a spore which can survive for many years in unfavourable environments. However, our understanding of how this process occurs is limited.

Spores of pathogenic bacteria are the vehicles of disease transmission and initiation, and once ingested or inhaled can cause catastrophic infectious diseases. The human pathogen Clostridium difficile is one such spore-forming pathogen that causes severe gut disease and diarrhoea in humans and animals that have been treated with antibiotics.

The rate of human C. difficile infection (CDI) has increased almost exponentially over the last decade with many new strain types emerging. Notably, in 2013 the Centers for Disease Control USA classified C. difficile as the most important antibiotic resistance threat to healthcare.

Strategies to prevent or reduce spore production from pathogenic spore-forming bacteria such as Clostridium species would be invaluable for infection control and treatment purposes.

Professor Dena Lyras, Monash University and Professor David Roper, University of Warwick are joining forces to share research and expertise in a study which will contribute to our understanding of the metabolically important sporulation process and how antibiotic usage changes this fundamental bacterial process following recent discoveries in this area.

These research outcomes will have substantial national and international impact including yielding a deeper understanding of the long-lasting detrimental impact of antibiotic use. The future outcomes of this work will provide economic benefits, reduce environmental microbial contamination promoting better health of animals and humans.

Principle applicants

Dena Lyras

Professor Dena Lyras

Professor, Department of Microbiology, Monash University

David Roper

Professor David Roper

Professor, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick


Dr Sheena McGowan, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Microbiology, Monash University

Dr Matthew Jenner, BBSRC Future Leader Fellow, Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick

Dr Yogitha Srikhanta, Research Fellow, Department of Microbiology, Monash University