Prof Dongyan Niu
University of Calgary
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Dr. Niu is an Assistant Professor of Food Safety from Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. Her areas of expertise include food safety, bacteriophage genomics and biology, phage therapy, detection and biocontrol of zoonotic pathogens. She is also serving as a Director of ACWA (Advancing Canadian Water Assets) Microbiology Laboratory.
Genome diversity of bacteriophages with infectivity against Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli
Bacteriophages (phages) are the most abundant entities across all habitats, and a major reservoir of genetic diversity affecting microbial structure, biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem dynamics. The scope of host–viral interactions is poorly understood, although it has been hypothesized that all cellular organisms are prey to viral attack. Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) are a diverse group of zoonotic pathogens, causing foodborne disease worldwide. Although new pathogenic serogroups keep emerging, cattle and their environment continue to be the primary reservoir for STEC. Endogenous phages are ubiquitous in cattle and their environment, regulating diversity of STEC via unknown mechanisms. Gaining mechanistic insights regarding how phages adapt to the cattle environment and prey on a variety of STEC is imperative to understand STEC ecology, as well as enhance phage biocontrol outcomes to mitigate STEC shedding in cattle. Molecular mechanisms that support phage-bacteria interactions are encoded in phage and host genomes. The long-term objectives of our research program are to understand how environmental phage genomes change and co-evolve with bacteria and how this shapes bacterial community structures and populations. Here, we report 1) genomic features of endemic phages representing distinct viral taxa, e.g. Tequitavirus, Rogunavirus, Seuratvirus Tunaviruses (Siphoviridae) and Tequatroviruses, Mosigviruses, Carltongylesvirus, and Felixounavirus (Myoviridae) and 2) genetic richness in STEC phages for host recognition and infection.