McMaster University

McMaster University

Dr. Michael G. Surette, B.Sc., PhD

Michael Surette

Professor, Department of Medicine, joint appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

Principal Investigator, Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute

Lab website:

Research Interests

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.


Recent Publications

  • Moayyedi P, Surette MG, Kim PT, Libertucci J, Wolfe M, Onischi C, Armstrong D, Marshall JK, Kassam Z, Reinisch W, Lee CH. (2015) Fecal Microbiota Transplantation Induces Remission in Patients with Active Ulcerative Colitis in a Randomized, Controlled Trial. Gastroenterology. In Press doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2015.04.001
  • Lam JC, Somayaji R, Surette MG, Rabin HR, and Parkins MD (2015) Reduction in Pseudomonas aeruginosa sputum density during a cystic fibrosis pulmonary exacerbation does not predict clinical response. BMC Infect Dis.15(1):145.
  • Stearns JC, Davidson CJ, McKeon S, Whelan FJ, Fontes ME, Schryvers AB, Bowdish DM, Kellner JD, Surette MG. (2015). Culture and molecular-based profiles show shifts in bacterial communities of the upper respiratory tract that occur with age. ISME J 9:1246–1259.
  • Kaiser, J.C., Verschoor, C.P., Surette, M.G. and Bowdish, D.M.E. (2014) Host cytokine responses distinguish invasive from airway isolates of the StreptococcusMilleri/Anginosis Group. BMC Infectious Disease 14(1):498.
  • Verschoor CP, Dorrington MG, Novakowski KE, Kaiser J, Radford K, Nair P, Anipindi V, Kaushic C, Surette MG, Bowdish DME (2014) MicroRNA-155 is required for the clearance of Streptococcus pneumoniae from the nasopharynx. Infect Immun. 82.11:4824-4833.
  • Whelan, F.J., Verschoor, C.P., Stearns, J., Rossi, L., Luinstra, K., Loeb, M., Smieja, M., Johnstone, J., Surette, M.G., and Bowdish, D.M.E. (2014) The loss of topography in the microbial communities of the upper respiratory tract in the elderly. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 11:513-21.
  • Workentine, M., Surette, M.G. and Bernier, S. (2014) Draft genome sequence ofBurkholderia dolosa PC543 isolated from cystic fibrosis airways. Genome Announc. 13;2(1). e00043-14.
  • Parkins,M.D. Glezerson ,B., Sibley, C., Sibley, K., Duong, J., Purighalla, S. Mody, C., Workentine, M., Storey, D., Surette, M.G. and Rabin, H. (2014) A Twenty-Five Year Outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infecting Individuals With Cystic Fibrosis: Identification of the Prairie Epidemic Strain (PES)) J. Clin. Microbiol. 52(4): 1127-1135.
  • Bernier SP, Workentine ML, Surette MG. (2014) Genetic signature of bacterial pathogen adaptation during chronic pulmonary infections. Nat Genet. 246(1):5-6.
  • Surette, M.G. (2014) The Cystic Fibrosis Lung Microbiome. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 11 Suppl 1:S61-5.
  • Olson AB, Kent H, Sibley CD, Grinwis ME, Mabon P, Ouellette C, Tyson S, Graham M, Tyler SD, Van Domselaar G, Surette MG, Corbett CR. (2013) Phylogenetic relationship and virulence inference of Streptococcus Anginosus Group: curated annotation and whole-genome comparative analysis support distinct species designation. BMC Genomics 14(1):895.
  • Whelan, F.J., Yap, N., Surette, M.G., Golding, G.B., Bowdish D.M. E. (2013) A guide to bioinformatics for immunologists. Frontiers in Immunology. 4:416.
  • Hoffman L and Surette M. (2013) What to Expect When You're Expectorating: Cystic Fibrosis Exacerbations and Microbiota. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 10(3):249-50.
  • Workentine, M.L. Sibley, C.D., Glezerson, B., Purighalla, S., Norgaard-Gron,J.C., Parkins, M.D., Rabin, H.R. and Surette, M.G. (2013) Phenotypic Heterogeneity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Populations in a Cystic Fibrosis Patient. PLoS One 8(4):e60225.
  • Branton WG, Ellestad KK, Maingat F, Wheatley BM, Rud E, Warren RL, Holt RA, Surette MG, and Power C.(2013) Brain microbial populations in HIV/AIDS: α-proteobacteria predominate independent of host immune status. PLoS One 8(1):e54673.
  • Bernier, S.P., and Surette, M.G. (2013) Concentration-dependent activity of antibiotics in natural environments.
    Front Microbiol. 4:20.
  • Rabin, H.R. and Surette, M.G. (2012) The cystic fibrosis airway microbiome. Curr Opin Pulmonary Medicine. 18(6):622-627.
  • Collins, S.M., Surette, M.G. and Bercik, P. (2012) The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the brain. Nature Rev. Microbiol. 10(11):735-742.
  • Turnbull AL, Kim, W. and Surette MG. (2012) Transcriptional Regulation of sdiA by CRP, LeuO, and environmental signals in Salmonella typhimurium. Can J Microbiol. 58:10-22.
  • Sibley C.D., Grinwis, M.E., Field, T.R., Eshaghurshan, C.S., Faria, M.M., Dowd, S.E. Parkins, M.D., Rabin H.R. and Surette M.G. (2011). Culture Enriched Molecular Profiling of the Cystic Fibrosis Airway Microbiome. PLoS One 6(7):e22702.
  • Workentine M, Surette MG. (2011) Complex pseudomonas population structure in cystic fibrosis airway infections. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 183(12):1581-3.
  • Sibley, C.D. and Surette, M.G. (2011) The polymicrobial nature of airway infections in cystic fibrosis: Cangene Gold Medal Lecture Can. J. Microbiol. 57:69-77.
  • Yim G, McClure J, Surette MG, and Davies JE (2011) Modulation of Salmonellagene expression by subinhibitory concentrations of quinolones. J. Antibiot. 64(1):73-8.
  • Sibley C.D., Grinwis, M.E., Rabin H.R. and Surette M.G. (2010) The Azithromycin Paradox in the Treatment of Cystic Fibrosis Airway Disease. Future Microbiol. 5: 1315-1319.
  • White, A.P., Weljie, A.M., Apel, D., Zhang, P., Shaykhutdinov, R., Vogel, H.J. and Surette, M.G. (2010) A global metabolic shift is linked to Salmonella multicellular development. PLoS One Jul 27;5(7):e11814.
  • Turnbull AL, and Surette MG. (2010) Cysteine biosynthesis, oxidative stress and antibiotic resistance in Salmonella typhimurium. Res Microbiol. 161:643-50.
  • Davidson, C.J., Narang, A. and Surette, M.G. (2010) Integration of transcriptional inputs at promoters of the arabinose catabolic pathway. BMC Systems Biology 4:75.
  • Sibley C.D., Sibley, K.A., Leong, T.A., Grinwis, M.E., Parkins M.D., Rabin H.R. and Surette M.G. (2010) The Streptococcus milleri population of a cystic fibrosis clinic reveals patient specificity and intraspecies diversity. J. Clin. Microbiol. 48(7):2592-4.
  • The Human Microbiome Jumpstart Reference Strains Consortium (contributing author). (2010) A Catalog of Reference Genomes from the Human Microbiome. Science 328:994-999. PMID: 20489017.
  • Grinwis ME, Sibley CD, Parkins MD, Eshaghurshan CS, Rabin HR and Surette MG. (2010) Macrolide and clindamycin resistance in Streptococcus milleri Group isolates from cystic fibrosis airways. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 54(7):2823-9.
  • Field, T.R., Sibley C.D., Parkins M.D., Rabin H.R. and Surette M.G. (2010) The Genus Prevotella In Cystic Fibrosis Airways. Anaerobe 16(4):337-4.
  • Olson, A.B., Sibley, C.D., Schmidt, L. Wilcox, M.A., Surette, M.G. and Corbett, C.R. (2010) Development of real-time PCR assays for detection of the Streptococcus milleri Group from Cystic fibrosis clinical specimens using targets for cpn60 and 16s rRNA genes. J. Clin. Microbiol. 48:1150-60.
  • Sibley C.D., Grinwis, M.E., Field, T.R., Parkins M.D., Norgaard, J.C., Gregson, D.B., Rabin H.R. and Surette M.G. McKay Agar Enables Routine Quantification of theStreptococcus milleri Group in Cystic Fibrosis Patients. (2010) J. Med. Micro. 59:534-40.
  • Grinwis, M.E., Sibley, C.D., Parkins, M.D., Eshaghurshan, C.S., Rabin, H.R. and Surette M.G. (2010) Characterization of Streptococcus milleri Group Isolates from Expectorated Sputum of Adult Cystic Fibrosis Patients. J. Clin. Microbiol. 48:395-401.

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