Hospital bugs – Klebsiella and Acinetobacter


Project Details

Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii are Gram negative bacteria that can cause a range of infections in humans. They are generally considered to be 'opportunistic' pathogens, meaning that they would not usually cause infections in healthy individuals but can cause serious infections in people who are immunocompromised (including infants, the elderly and some hospital patients) or people who have exposed wounds or inserted medical devices (usually hospitalised patients). These two bacteria appear to be are exceptionally good at acquiring antibiotic resistance genes (see above), and in the last few decades have established themselves as significant causes of hospital-acquired infections across the globe.

photo of plate of Klebsiella pneumoniae

A highly virulent and super-sticky Klebsiella pneumoniae isolated from a patient in Melbourne.

However very little is known about these organisms, including their mechanisms of pathogenesis and their population structure, and there are very few tools available to study their evolution and transmission. This makes the bugs prime candidates for genomic studies.

We have recently completed a large global study of Klebsiella pneumoniae, looking at genomic diversity and population structure of K. pneumoniae isolated from various geographical regions and environmental niches (including a range of hospital infections, human gut colonization, animal infections and colonization, etc). See here for details.


* Gastrointestinal Carriage Is a Major Reservoir of Klebsiella pneumoniae Infection in Intensive Care Patients 2017 Clinical Infectious Diseases

* Klebsiella pneumoniae Population Genomics and Antimicrobial-Resistant Clones 2016 Trends in Microbiology

* Identification of Klebsiella capsule synthesis loci from whole genome data 2016 Microbial Genomics

* Repeated local emergence of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii in a single hospital ward 2016 Microbial Genomics

Research Group

Holt laboratory: Pathogen genomics and bioinformatics

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Infection & Immunity, Systems Biology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Unit / Centre

Holt laboratory: Pathogen genomics and bioinformatics

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