Excellence in Research: Harnessing Microbial Signals for Biofilm Control
Logo to represent Biochemical Engineering
Biochemical Engineering

Biofilm Adhesive and Kinetic Properties Under Hydrodynamic Influences During Early Evolution Stages

Excellence in Research: Harnessing Microbial Signals for Biofilm Control
Logo to represent Environmental Engineering
Environmental Engineering

Contribution of Terrestrial Bacteria to Iodine Biogeochemical Cycling

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Environmental Microbiology

Small Molecule Inhibitors of the Phosphoenolpyruvate-Phosphotransferase System

Excellence in Research: Harnessing Microbial Signals for Biofilm Control
Logo to represent Microbiology & Immunology
Environmental Engineering

Harnessing Microbial Signals for Biofilm Control

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Our Research

Our main goals are to improve our ability to combat infections and microbial colonization of surfaces and to understand better how complex communities of microorganisms function. Our research is focused on three key areas:

  1. Discovering New Antimicrobial Compounds: We’re developing methods to find new small molecules that can effectively fight bacteria. These molecules could become new antibiotics or treatments to combat infections.
  2. Creating Lab Models of Bacterial Communities: We’re building models in the lab that mimic how bacteria interact in real-world settings, like in medical devices or on surfaces. These models help us identify new targets for drugs that could disrupt bacterial growth or survival.
  3. Testing Drugs, Novel Models, and Strategies in Realistic Settings: Once we identify promising compounds, we test them in living organisms to evaluate their effectiveness and safety against microbial infections and biofouling – where microbes colonize surfaces and form resistant biofilms. We also assess innovative models and strategies designed to disrupt these biofilms on various surfaces, an area where traditional antibiotics often struggle.

Our approach combines different scientific methods to improve how we discover and develop treatments for these microbial events that are particularly challenging to treat.

Currently, our projects involve:

  • Studying Biofilm Structures: We’re investigating how the physical structure of biofilms—such as their porosity and thickness—affects how well antibiotics and other treatments can penetrate and work against them. Understanding these aspects will help us develop strategies to disrupt biofilm growth effectively.
  • Innovative Strategies for Biofilm Control: We’re exploring new ways to directly challenge bacteria within biofilms, aiming to find effective methods to break down their protective layers. For example, we’re studying signaling molecules that bacteria produce to develop strategies aimed at optimizing treatments for controlling biofilms.
  • Exploring New Chemical Tools and Delivery Methods: We’re searching for new chemicals and targets within bacteria that could lead to innovative drug treatments. Our next step involves researching improved methods to deliver these medicines precisely to where biofilms develop, ensuring they reach their target effectively.

By focusing on these areas, we hope to contribute to the development of more effective strategies against microbial microbial infections and biofouling.

Peer-Reviewed Manuscripts

Shaikh S, AN Saleem , P Ymele-Leki. Simulation and Modeling of the Adhesion of Staphylococcus aureus onto Inert Surfaces under Fluid Shear Stress. Pathogens 2024, 13(7), 551. Waseem M, JQL Williams, A Thangavel, PC Still, P Ymele-Leki. A Structural Analog of Ralfuranones and Favipesins Promotes Biofilm Formation by Vibrio cholerae. PLoS ONE. 2019;14(4):e0215273. Stanley S, P Ymele-Leki. Introducing High School Students to Chemical Engineering Kinetics With a Simple Experiment-Based Smartphone Education Application. Chemical Engineering Education. 2017 Fall; 51(4): 189-197. Fennell Y, P Ymele-Leki, TA Adegboye, KL Jones. Impact of sulfidation of silver nanoparticles on established P. aeruginosa biofilms. J Biomaterials and Nanobiotechnology. 2017 Jan;8(1):83-95. Ymele-Leki P, L Houot, PI Watnick. Mannitol and the mannitol-specific enzyme IIB subunit activate Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Aug;79(15):4675-83. Absalon C, P Ymele-Leki, PI Watnick. The bacterial biofilm matrix as a platform for antigen presentation and enzyme delivery. MBio. 2012 Jul 17;3(4):e00127-12. Py BF, SF Gonzalez, K Long, MS Kim, YA Kim, H Zhu, J Yao, N Degauque, R Villet, P Ymele-Leki, M Gadjeva, GB Pier, MC Carroll, J Yuan. Cochlin produced by follicular dendritic cells promotes antibacterial innate immunity. Immunity. 2013 May 23;38(5):1063-72. Acosta MA, P Ymele-Leki, Y Kostov, JB Leach (2009). Fluorescent microparticles for sensing cell microenvironment oxygen levels within 3D scaffolds. Biomaterials, 30(17):3068-74. George NPE, P Ymele-Leki, K Konstantopoulos, JM Ross (2009). Differential binding of biofilm-derived versus suspension grown Staphylococcus aureus to immobilized platelets in shear flow. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 199(5):633-40. Ymele-Leki P, JM Ross (2007). Erosion from Staphylococcus aureus biofilms grown under physiologically relevant fluid shear forces yields bacterial cells with reduced avidity to collagen. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73(6): 1834-184 Mascari L, P Ymele-Leki, CD Eggleton, P Speziale, JM Ross (2003). Fluid shear contributions to bacteria cell detachment initiated by a monoclonal antibody. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 83(1): 65-74.