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

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

  • Froese, D.S., Dobson, C.M., White, A.P., Wu, X., Padovani, D., Banerjee, R., Gerlt, J.A., Surette, M.G. and Gravel, R.A. (2009) Sleeping beauty mutase (sbm) is expressed and interacts with ygfD in Escherichia coli. Microbiol. Res. 164:1-8.
  • Kaufman J, Griffiths TA, Surette MG, Ness S, Rioux KP. (2009) Effects of mesalamine (5-aminosalicylic acid) on bacterial gene expression. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 15(7):985-96.
  • Yang, Z., Kim, J., Zhang, C., Zhang, M., Nietfeldt, J., Southward, C.M., Surette,M .G., Kachman, S.D., and Benson, A.K.. (2009) Genomic instability in regions adjacent to highly conserved pch prophage in E. coli 4 O157:H7 generates diversity in expression patterns of the LEE pathogenicity island. J. Bacteriol. 191(11):3553-68.
  • Duan, K., Sibley, D.L., Davidson, C.J. and Surette, M.G. (2009) Chemical Interactions between Organisms in Microbial Communities. Contributions to Microbiology 16:1-17.
  • Apel D., White A.P., Grassl G.A., Finlay B.B., and Surette M.G. (2009) Long Term Survival of Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium reveals an infectious state that is underrepresented on laboratory media containing bile salts. Appl Environ Microbiol. 75:4923-5.
  • Sibley C.D., Parkins M.D., Rabin H.R. and Surette M.G. (2009) The relevance of the polymicrobial nature of airway infection in the acute and chronic management of patients with cystic fibrosis. Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 10:787-94.
  • Surette, M.G. and Davies, J. (2008) A New Look At Secondary Metabolites (Chapter 19). in Bacterial Cell-cell Signaling, S. C. Winans and B.L. Bassler Eds. American Society of Microbiology, Washington, D.C. pp307-322.
  • White, A.P., Gibson, D.L., Grassl, G.A., Kay, W.W., Finlay, B.B., Vallance, B.A., and Surette, M.G. (2008) Aggregation via the rdar morphotype is not a virulence adaptation in Salmonella. Infection and Immunity 76:1048-58.
  • Davidson, C.J., White, A. P. and Surette, M.G. (2008) Evolutionary loss of the rdar morphotype in Salmonella as a result of high mutation rates during laboratory passage. The ISME Journal 2:293-307.
  • Parkins, M., Sibley, C.D., Surette, M.G. and Rabin, H. (2008) The Streptococcus milleri Group: An Unrecognized Cause of Disease in Cystic Fibrosis. A Case Series and Literature Review. Pediatric Pulmonology 43:490-497.
  • Shen, L., Shi, Y., Zhang, D., Wei, J., Surette, M.G. and Duan, K. (2008) Modulation of secreted virulence factor genes by subinhibitory concentrations of antibiotics in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. J. Microbiol. 46:441-447.
  • Liang, H, Li, L., Dong, Z., Surette, M.G. and Duan, K. (2008) The YebC family protein PA0964 negatively regulates Pseudomonas aeruginosa quinolone signal (PQS) system and pyocyanin production. J. Bacteriol. 190: 6217-6227.
  • Turnbull, A.L. and Surette, M.G. (2008) L-cysteine is required for induced antibiotic resistance in actively swarming Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Microbiology 154:3410-3419.
  • Davidson, C.J. and Surette, M.G. (2008) Individuality in Bacteria. Ann. Rev. Genet. 42:253-268.
  • Sibley, C.D., Parkins, M.D., Duan, K. Norgaard, C.J, Rabin, H. and Surette, M.G. (2008). A polymicrobial perspective of pulmonary infections exposes an enigmatic pathogen in cystic fibrosis patients. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105:15070-15075.
  • Sibley, C.D., Duan, K., Fischer, C., Parkins, M.D., Storey, D.G., Rabin, H. and Surette, M.G. (2008) Discerning the complexity of community interactions using a Drosophila model of polymicrobial infections. PLoS Pathogens e1000184.
  • White, A.P., Ambrose, E., Jones, B., DeVinney, R., Kay, W.W. and Surette, M.G. (2007) An efficient system for markerless gene replacement applicable in a wide variety of Enterobacteriacea. Can. J. Microbiol. 53: 56-62.
  • Song, J., Duan, K., Ware, T., and Surette, M.G. (2007) The Wavelet-Based Cluster Analysis For Temporal Gene Expression Data. EURASIP Journal on Bioinformatics and Systems Biology vol. 2007, Article ID 39382, 7 pages, 2007. doi:10.1155/2007/39382.
  • Duan, K. and Surette, M.G. (2007) Environmental Regulation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 Las and Rhl Quorum-sensing Systems. J. Bacteriol. 189: 4827-4836.
  • Stevens, C.M., Silver, D.M., Behm, B., Surette, M.G. and Turner, R.J. (2007) OMLeT - An alternative approach to learning metabolism; Glycolysis & the TCA cycle as an example. J. Chem. Educ. 84: 2024 - 2029.
  • Stocki, S. L., Annett, C. B., Sibley, C. D., McLaws, M., Checkley, S. L., Singh, N., Surette, M. G. and White, A. P. (2007) Persistence of Salmonella on Egg Conveyor Belts is Dependent on the Belt Type but Not on the rdar Morphotype. Poultry Science 86:2375-83.
  • Cox III, R.S., Surette, M.G. and Elowitz, M.B. (2007) Programming gene expression with combinatorial promoters. Molecular Systems Biology 3:145.

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