University of Hertfordshire

Andy Timms

Expertise

Research interests

My interests include existing and emergent food-borne pathogens, their prevalence and adaptations for survival during food production and processing. My research has also looked at using bacteriophages as possible means to control food-borne pathogens throughout food production.

As well as the practical uses of phage in the control of food-borne pathogens I am interested in their role in shaping bacterial communities. The description of phages as ‘the dark matter of the biosphere’ is quite compelling and it is only relatively recently that work to look at the metaviromes of the environment, animals and humans has become feasible. Bacterial communities are increasingly seen as pivotal to the understanding of health and disease progression or persistence, once again phage have profound effects on types and persistence of bacteria and it is clear that bacterial communities cannot meaningfully be studied without reference to the phages that share their environment.

Following from this, the increasing levels of antimicrobial resistance in human relevant pathogens is a serious problem. Recently there has been a revival in alternative therapies, including the use of bacteriophage in human therapies. More specifically this includes their use against organisms that are already resistant to existing therapeutically relevant antimicrobial compounds. Examining the possible synergies or antagonism of bacteriophage and antimicrobial chemotherapies is an emerging area of interest.

I also have interests in the presence and role of bacterial mutators in bacterial populations and their effects on the de novo development of antibiotic resistance, including the contributions of DNA damage and repair processes occurring in growing and 'stationary' cells.. This is also of relevance to development of microbial resistance to bacteriophages.