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Full NameProfessor Michael B Prentice


Organisation:University College Cork

Email Address:Email hidden; Javascript is required.

Research Fields
  • genetics, genomics and molecular biology
  • infectious disease and the immune system
  • bioengineering/medical devices
Postgrad Medical Specialties
  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Paediatrics
  • Pathology
  • Public Health
Medical Subspecialties
  • Cardiac Surgery
  • Gastroenterology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Infectious diseases
  • Neonatology
  • Nephrology
  • Respiratory Medicine
My Work

Work in my laboratory comprises two main themes. Firstly, we use DNA sequences to study the epidemiology of infections (1), and pathogen and commensal evolution, particularly involving internal bacterial metabolic structures whose widespread existence has been revealed by genome sequencing – bacterial microcompartments (2). We study the functional principles of these structures and the advantages they confer on their bacterial hosts- for example in facilitating urinary tract infection (3).

The second theme is a collaboration with Professors John Sodeau and John Wenger of the Centre for Research in Atmospheric Chemistry at UCC and Professor Barry Plant, Director, Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre, Cork University Hospital to apply a “smart” particle detector (4) to measure indoor air quality and risks of airborne infection in hospitals.

1. O’Driscoll, C, et al. 2016. Molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium abscessus complex isolates in Ireland. J Cyst Fibros 15:179–185.
2. Frank, S, et al . 2013. Bacterial microcompartments moving into a synthetic biological world. Journal of Biotechnology 163:273–279.
3. Dadswell, K, et al. 2019. Bacterial microcompartment-mediated ethanolamine metabolism in E. coli urinary tract infection. Infect Immun May 2019 doi:10.1128/IAI.00211-19
4. Fennelly, MJ, et al. 2017. The Use of Real-Time Fluorescence Instrumentation to Monitor Ambient Primary Biological Aerosol Particles (PBAP). Atmosphere 9 (1), 1-39

Potential Projects

Potential Research Project 1

Bacterial microcompartment metabolism in urinary tract infection.

Microcompartment-mediated metabolism of small carbon compounds allows Enterobacterial pathogens (including E.coli) to outcompete commensal bacteria during acute enteric infection. We have shown this also occurs in E.coli urinary tract infection. The project will apply a variety of in vivo and in vitro strategies including RNASeq to explore further the role of microcompartment-mediated metabolism in laboratory models of urinary tract infection. Host-microbe interaction effects of Eut operon induction (host microRNA and cytokine expression) will be studied in collaboration with Dr John MacSharry, Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology.

Potential Research Project 2

Airborne Biological Particle Detection (WIBS) and Healthcare Infection

The Waveband Integrated Bioaerosol Sensor (WIBS-4) is a portable (13.6 kg) continuous monitoring instrument detecting biological particles by auto-fluorescence, coupled with time-of-flight measurements and spatial light scattering analysis of shape. Preliminary WIBS data we have obtained from different hospitals has shown the expected biological particle gradient decrease from ward to plenum ventilated operating theatre to ultraclean operating theatre and has detected aerosol production from clinical appliances. In this project the student will use WIBS to assess the effect of empirical air cleaning measures in the healthcare environment, compare WIBS with other similar machines appearing in this rapidly developing field, or explore non-culture based molecular methods to identify the biological particles that WIBS is detecting.