Janet R. Donaldson
Associate Professor and Department Chair
Listeria monocytogenes is a very dangerous food-borne pathogen with a high mortality rate ( 20-30%). A major reason why L. monocytogenes is dangerous is because it can survive the stressful environments encountered during its infection cycle within the gastrointestinal tract, including that of high bile salt environments encountered in the small intestine and gallbladder. The ability of bacteria to establish gastrointestinal infections is directly related to their ability to resist the bactericidal properties of bile. However, very little is understood regarding the actual mechanisms of resistance, especially as they relate to gram-positive bacteria under physiologically relevant anaerobic conditions. The long-term goal of my lab is to determine the mechanisms that allow for the proliferation of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Identifying the mechanism(s) of bile resistance in L. monocytogenes will lead to advancements in therapies to combat gastrointestinal infections.
Antibiotics resistance continues to rise in prevalence among pathogenic bacteria. My lab is working to develop novel therapies that are non-antibiotic. Our laboratory is focused upon identifying how probiotics work to protect a host against enteric infections. We are also involved in testing novel probiotics as feed supplements for improving both human and animal health.