Invited Speaker Australian Society for Microbiology Annual Scientific Meeting 2018

Engineering bacteriophages to establish a phage therapy platform for biofilm control (#144)

Karen Weynberg 1 2 , MA Schembri 2 , S Beatson 2 , T Peat 2 , C Hartley 1 , P Bond 2 , JJ Barr 3 , TK Lu 4
  1. Commonwealth Science Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Queensland, Australia
  2. School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia
  3. Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  4. Research Laboratory of Electronics, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America

Biofilms consist of bacterial consortia that colonise surfaces and interfaces, and present a major global challenge in biotechnology, clinical settings, water and food industries, costing millions of lives and billions of US dollars annually. Coupled with the worldwide emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria and an escalating antibiotic crisis, effective therapeutic antimicrobial alternatives are needed to mitigate biofilms. Viruses that infect bacteria (bacteriophage or phage) can be used to infect bacterial biofilms via a process known as ‘phage therapy’. Our research utilizes synthetic biology to engineer natural phage isolates and construct synthetic phages to effectively target biofilms. Novel engineered phage-based tools, via high-throughput evolution and synthetic component construction, CRISPR-Cas technology, and microfluidics are being utilised to control biofilm development. A library of customised ‘designer’ phages will be built and available for end-users. This project will advance state-of-the-art technology in phage engineering and biofilm experimentation with a platform of synthetic biology tools and techniques.