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Microbial Pathogens

The Microbiology Programme addresses key food bacterial pathogens and specific food spoilage issues along the complete “farm to fork” chain with the main focus on zoonotic pathogens. The research areas addressed include:

  • Pathogen transmission and tracking using molecular epidemiological tools.
  • Pathogen behaviour and survival in the food chain including adaptation to stresses and resistance to antibiotics and biocides.
  • Pathogenicity, virulence and its molecular basis.
  • Development of predictive modelling and quantitative risk assessment models.
  • Development of novel interventions, strategies, particularly biocontrols.
  • Specific issues related to microbial spoilage (packaged meat) and quality (milk) that are of concern to the Irish food industry.

Some of the main issues being addressed are

  • Verocytotoxigenic E. coli in food animals, primary production environments, meat, dairy and horticulture sectors
  • Campylobacter in poultry  
  • Salmonella in pigs and pork
  • Listeria monocytogenes in dairy and ready to eat foods
  • Cronobacter in infant milk formula
  • Pathogen resistance to antibiotics and biocides.

Current Large Microbial Research Activities 

Supporting microbial risk assessment and control

  • Leading a national OneHealth programme on surveillance and control of STEC in the agri-food chain supporting public health and export market access for Irish meat
  • Campylobacter transmission and control in the poultry chain 
  • Meat Technology Ireland - Leading programme to assure safetyand extending the shelf life of fresh red meat (beef and lamb) 
  • Prepared consumer foods : Innovative approaches to control pathogens and extend shelf life
  • Transmission and control of Listeria monocytogenes in ready to eat foods 
  • Transmission and control of pathogens on fresh produce 

We are involved in a number of large projects including