Amy Qian

McGill University
B.Sc. candidate

Supervisor: Corinne Maurice
Start: 2022-08-31


Investigating prophage induction in gut bacteria during intestinal inflammation
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are indicated by chronic gut inflammation, which significantly impacts the patients' health and the overall costs of health care in Canada. Currently, there is no cure for IBD; however, it is thought that the trillions of bacteria living in the human gut microbiome might contribute to the disease. During IBD, there is an imbalance in the types of bacteria residing in the gut. Viruses that infect these bacteria, known as bacteriophages (phages), are present at equal numbers to bacteria in the gut and also seem to be imbalanced during IBD. Gut inflammation is likely a cause of such imbalance, which could further exacerbate disease severity in IBD patients. In other ecosystems, phages have been shown to infect bacteria and change their bacteria composition. These phages could possibly be used for therapy in IBD by preventing the bacteria imbalance. However, to introduce effective treatments toward reverting bacteria balance in the gut, we first need to understand how the phage balance is disturbed by inflammation and how to prevent imbalanced gut phages from infecting healthy bacteria. We plan to investigate how gut inflammation can disturb phages and cause an imbalance in both gut phages and bacteria and examine large-scale changes in the gut microbiome in a clinically relevant animal model. Additionally, we will characterize novel phages that have not been studied under inflammatory disruption using bioinformatics. Our project will provide insight into how phage balance and phage-bacteria interaction might be changed during gut inflammation. Our data could possibly help develop future therapeutics focused on using phages to alter bacterial communities in IBD patients and rationalize approaches to IBD microbiome therapy.