Michael G. Surette, PhD

Professor, Department of Medicine

Joint appointment to the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

Canada Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research


Lab website:

twitter: @surette_m

Google+: +Mike Surette


Bacteria live almost exclusively in communities with other microorganisms, and often in association with multicellular hosts. These communities are capable of maintaining complex structural and functional stability over time, and exhibit fascinating properties of resiliency in response to environmental changes. This is a result of interactions between microbes and the environment and amongst members of the community. A multitude of chemical interactions occur in microbial communities where primary and secondary metabolites contribute to a wealth of interactions between organisms. The chemicals include a variety of nutrients, toxic or neutral metabolic byproducts, antibiotics, and cell-cell signaling molecules. These chemical and physical signals mitigate microbial relationship that can be competitive, cooperative or neutral, and thus are responsible for determining community structure. In turn, the surrounding community changes the microenvironment of individual cells that respond to chemical and environmental cues in a combinatorial manner.  Pathogens must contend with this complex ecology during infection.  For pathogens, these other microbes are the normal microbiota of the human host (the human microbiome).  The human microbiome is poorly defined and composed of thousands of organisms of which relatively few have been characterized.  We are working to define the normal microbiota and to understand the role of small molecule signaling in the ecology of the normal microbiota of the human host.

One of our primary areas of research investigates the role of normal flora-pathogen interactions in health and disease in the area of respiratory infections with a focus in cystic fibrosis.  A polymicrobial perspective on these infections has lead to identification of overlooked pathogens in airway disease as well as synergistic interactions between avirulent organisms and pathogens.  This is a fundamentally different view of airway infections and has lead to direct benefits to patients through altered treatment strategies.

  1. Libertucci, J, Dutta, U, Kaur, S, Jury, J, Rossi, L, Fontes, ME et al.. Inflammation-related differences in mucosa-associated microbiota and intestinal barrier function in colonic Crohn's disease. Am. J. Physiol. Gastrointest. Liver Physiol. 2018; :. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00411.2017. PubMed PMID:29848021 .
  2. Thevaranjan, N, Puchta, A, Schulz, C, Naidoo, A, Szamosi, JC, Verschoor, CP et al.. Age-Associated Microbial Dysbiosis Promotes Intestinal Permeability, Systemic Inflammation, and Macrophage Dysfunction. Cell Host Microbe. 2018;23 (4):570. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2018.03.006. PubMed PMID:29649447 PubMed Central PMC5899819.
  3. Jung, TD, Jung, PS, Raveendran, L, Farbod, Y, Dvorkin-Gheva, A, Sakic, B et al.. Changes in gut microbiota during development of compulsive checking and locomotor sensitization induced by chronic treatment with the dopamine agonist quinpirole. Behav Pharmacol. 2018;29 (2 and 3 - Special Issue):211-224. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000363. PubMed PMID:29194070 .
  4. Stearns, JC, Simioni, J, Gunn, E, McDonald, H, Holloway, AC, Thabane, L et al.. Intrapartum antibiotics for GBS prophylaxis alter colonization patterns in the early infant gut microbiome of low risk infants. Sci Rep. 2017;7 (1):16527. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-16606-9. PubMed PMID:29184093 PubMed Central PMC5705725.
  5. Yan, A, Culp, E, Perry, J, Lau, JT, MacNeil, LT, Surette, MG et al.. Transformation of the Anticancer Drug Doxorubicin in the Human Gut Microbiome. ACS Infect Dis. 2018;4 (1):68-76. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.7b00166. PubMed PMID:29160065 .
  6. Wessels, JM, Lajoie, J, Vitali, D, Omollo, K, Kimani, J, Oyugi, J et al.. Association of high-risk sexual behaviour with diversity of the vaginal microbiota and abundance of Lactobacillus. PLoS ONE. 2017;12 (11):e0187612. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187612. PubMed PMID:29095928 PubMed Central PMC5667760.
  7. Wu, RY, Määttänen, P, Napper, S, Scruten, E, Li, B, Koike, Y et al.. Non-digestible oligosaccharides directly regulate host kinome to modulate host inflammatory responses without alterations in the gut microbiota. Microbiome. 2017;5 (1):135. doi: 10.1186/s40168-017-0357-4. PubMed PMID:29017607 PubMed Central PMC5635512.
  8. Nadkarni, RR, Abed, S, Cox, BJ, Bhatia, S, Lau, JT, Surette, MG et al.. Functional Enterospheres Derived In Vitro from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells. Stem Cell Reports. 2017;9 (3):897-912. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2017.07.024. PubMed PMID:28867347 PubMed Central PMC5599260.
  9. Whelan, FJ, Surette, MG. A comprehensive evaluation of the sl1p pipeline for 16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis. Microbiome. 2017;5 (1):100. doi: 10.1186/s40168-017-0314-2. PubMed PMID:28807046 PubMed Central PMC5557527.
  10. Shen, P, Whelan, FJ, Schenck, LP, McGrath, JJC, Vanderstocken, G, Bowdish, DME et al.. Streptococcus pneumoniae Colonization Is Required To Alter the Nasal Microbiota in Cigarette Smoke-Exposed Mice. Infect. Immun. 2017;85 (10):. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00434-17. PubMed PMID:28760931 PubMed Central PMC5607400.
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