Centre for Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy

Past Seminars

α-mannan utilisation by the human gut bacteria Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron

Dr Fiona Cuskin, Lecturer in Metabolic Chemistry, CBCB

Date/Time: 20th of February 2018, 13:00-14:00

Venue: CBCB Baddiley-Clark Building, large meeting room level 2


The human gut microbiota plays a key role in health and disease, dysbiosis of the human gut is implicated in various disease states such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and cancer. The gut microbiota has also been shown to be important in the development of the immune system and is often altered in people with severe allergies. Understanding the mechanisms by which dominant members of the microbiota survive in the competitive environment of the human gut is paramount, as it will inform on targeted probiotic and prebiotic strategies to enrich the “friendly” bacteria of the microbiota and maintain a healthy gut flora. 

This talk will focus on how Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a prominent member of the gut microbiota, is able to degrade and utilise α-mannans found in the cell wall of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans. Including the biochemical and structural analysis of enzymes involved in carbohydrate degradation as well as co-culturing experiments to understand the mechanism by which mannan is degraded.



Fiona did her PhD and Post-doc in the lab of Prof Harry Gilbert at  the Institute for Cell and Molecular Bioscience (ICAMB) at Newcastle University. During both her PhD and Post-doc she worked on a range of different projects aiming to biochemically and structurally characterise carbohydrate active enzymes. Fiona started a lectureship in 2016 at the School of Natural and Environmental Science, Newcastle university.