Hong-Yu OU

Professor, School of Life Sciences & Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU), China

Summary of my work

The dramatic increase in high levels of multiple-antibiotic resistance associated with bacterial pathogenes of man, poses a major emerging global problem. Further accentuating the problem is the fact that Enterobacteriaceae species serve as reservoirs for the spread of antibiotic resistance genes to many bacterial species, thus amplifying the problem of antibiotic-recalcitrant infections. Across the full breadth of the bacterial domain, a vast repertoire of antibiotic resistance, virulence-associated and other traits have spread via horizontal gene transfer of various mobile genetic elements (MGEs), such as plasmids, prophages and integrative conjugative elements. Recently, cost-effective whole genome sequencing and comparative analyses of the public health and clinical microbes enable researchers to understand pathogenesis and disease transmission with unprecedented levels of detail.

With the overlapping research interests in foodborne pathogens of Enterobacteriaceae and their MGEs, I am visiting Prof. Martin Wiedmann’s group in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell. My project aims to perform large-scale WGS (whole genome sequencing) data analysis to investigate how MGEs of bacterial foodborne pathogens promote dissemination of bacterial adaption traits, with an emphasis on the acquisition of new virulence factors and antibiotic resistance. In particular, we are interested in whether defined mobilome complements give rise to Salmonella enterica and Klebsiella pneumonia isolates.

Impacts in China

Antibotic resistance of bacterial pathogens is a serious problem in China. It remains challenging to trace, control, and prevent bacterial pathogens, especially those foodborne. At Cornell, I will have the opportunity to study bacterial genomics and the mobile genetic element’s contributions to bacterial antibiotic resistance, virulence-associated and other important traits, use epidemic approaches to provide insights into molecular mechanism. The long-term collaboration between Cornell and our group at SJTU focusing on microbiology, “omics” and bioinformatics will mutually benefit both sides and strengthen research in areas such as in-depth mining of the NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) data of bacterial foodborne pathogens in China.