James Adams

James Adams

Postgraduate Research Student

Academic and research departments

School of Veterinary Medicine.


My research project


William T. Ferreira, Huynh A. Hong, James R. G. Adams, Mateusz Hess, Natalia K. Kotowicz, Sisareuth Tan, Enrico Ferrari, Alain Brisson, Jurgen Zentek, Mikhail Soloviev and Simon M. Cutting (2022) Environmentally Acquired Bacillus and Their Role in C. difficile Colonization Resistance

Clostridioides difficile is an environmentally acquired, anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium which ordinarily causes disease following antibiotic-mediated dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota. Although much is understood regarding the life cycle of C. difficile, the fate of C. difficile spores upon ingestion remains unclear, and the underlying factors that predispose an individual to colonization and subsequent development of C. difficile infection (CDI) are not fully understood. Here, we show that Bacillus, a ubiquitous and environmentally acquired, spore-forming bacterium is associated with colonization resistance to C. difficile. Using animal models, we first provide evidence that animals housed under conditions that mimic reduced environmental exposure have an increased susceptibility to CDI, correlating with a loss in Bacillus. Lipopeptide micelles (~10 nm) produced by some Bacilli isolated from the gastro-intestinal (GI)-tract and shown to have potent inhibitory activity to C. difficile have recently been reported. We show here that these micelles, that we refer to as heterogenous lipopeptide lytic micelles (HELMs), act synergistically with components present in the small intestine to augment inhibitory activity against C. difficile. Finally, we show that provision of HELM-producing Bacillus to microbiota-depleted animals suppresses C. difficile colonization thereby demonstrating the significant role played by Bacillus in colonization resistance. In the wider context, our study further demonstrates the importance of environmental microbes on susceptibility to pathogen colonization.

William T. Ferreira, Huynh A. Hong, Mateusz Hess, James R. G. Adams, Hannah Wood, Karolina Bakun, Sisareuth Tan, Loredana Baccigalupi, Enrico Ferrari, Alain Brisson, Ezio Ricca, María Teresa Rejas, Wilfried J. J. Meijer, Mikhail Soloviev and Simon Cutting (2021) Micellar Antibiotics of Bacillus

Members of the Bacillus genus, particularly the “Bacillus subtilis group”, are known to produce amphipathic lipopeptides with biosurfactant activity. This includes the surfactins, fengycins and iturins that have been associated with antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral properties. We have screened a large collection of Bacillus, isolated from human, animal, estuarine water and soil samples and found that the most potent lipopeptide producers are members of the species Bacillus velezensis. B. velezensis lipopeptides exhibited anti-bacterial activity which was localised on the surface of both vegetative cells and spores. Interestingly, lipopeptide micelles (6–10 nm diameter) were detectable in strains exhibiting the highest levels of activity. Micelles were stable (heat and gastric stable) and shown to entrap other antimicrobials produced by the host bacterium (exampled here was the dipeptide antibiotic chlorotetaine). Commercially acquired lipopeptides did not exhibit similar levels of inhibitory activity and we suspect that micelle formation may relate to the particular isomeric forms produced by individual bacteria. Using naturally produced micelle formulations we demonstrated that they could entrap antimicrobial compounds (e.g., clindamycin, vancomycin and resveratrol). Micellar incorporation of antibiotics increased activity. Bacillus is a prolific producer of antimicrobials, and this phenomenon could be exploited naturally to augment antimicrobial activity. From an applied perspective, the ability to readily produce Bacillus micelles and formulate with drugs enables a possible strategy for enhanced drug delivery.