Microbial Biology and Metagenomics

Researchers at TRI are focusing on how microbes in the human gastrointestinal tract affect our health, via their interactions with the foods we eat, our own genetic makeup, and our immune systems.

Professor Mark Morrison and his team of TRI-based researchers are using DNA sequencing technologies, as well as other microbiological and genetic methods to produce new insights into the microbial world, commonly referred to as the “microbiome”. When used together, microbial biology and metagenomics offer new ways to study whole communities of microbes within their natural environments and without having to first culture them in the laboratory.  From this foundation, the aims of his team’s research are to improve methods for monitoring and adjusting our gut microbiota in order to improve and maintain health, as well as to better diagnose and treat disease.

Professor Morrison’s team is the first in Australia to be integrated within a biomedical research environment such as The University of Queensland's Diamantina Institute and TRI. 

Current projects include examining how microbes might provide the “triggers” for the onset of functional gastrointestinal disorders, inflammatory bowel diseases, and other autoimmune diseases; the microbial genetics behind the production of pro- and anti-inflammatory properties by select gut bacteria; and how other environmental factors (e.g. dietary patterns) might affect the form and function of the gut microbiota, or be used to positively redirect the microbiota to support health and well-being.   

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Key Researchers
Erin Shanahan
Paraic O Cuiv
Mark Morrison
Key Aims
  • 1. To define how genetics and environment affect the human gut microbiota.
  • 2. To understand how the microbes found within our bodies influence our health and well-being.
  • 3. To translate this understanding into new ways to improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases.
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