Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Máire Begley


The genus Cronobacter accommodates 16 biogroups of the emerging opportunistic pathogen known formerly as Enterobacter sakazakii. Cronobacter are occasional contaminants of milk powder and, consequently, powdered infant formula (PIT). Since it is a pathogen that is transmitted in infant formula it represents a significant health risk to neonates. These bacteria are opportunistic pathogens (can only cause disease when the host's resistance is low) and are linked with life-threatening infections in neonates. Some of the clinical symptoms of Cronohacter infection include necrotizing enterocolitis, bacteremia, and meningitis, with case fatality rates of 50-80% being reported (Healy et al. 2010). Infant formula manufacturers are obliged to ensure that infant formula is free of C. sakazakii prior to sale and they are interested in developing novel C sakazakii inhibitors (e.g. antimicrobial peptides) for incorporation into powdered infant formula (PIT) to prevent the pathogen from causing serious illness to the host. In order to develop novel control methods

for C. sakazakii (i.e. antimicrobials/antibiotics/preservatives etc) a much greater understanding into how C. sakazakii interacts with the host (i.e. what genes/proteins does the pathogen use to survive within the human host) and subsequently cause disease is needed. Compared to many other pathogens, research in this area is still in its infancy. Much is still to be discovered about C. sakazakii and its virulence mechanisms, as well as the protein-protein interactions that occur between this deadly pathogen and humans. The aim of this study is to predict protein-protein interactions between C. sakazakii and human host, as such data would greatly contribute to developing novel control methods for this pathogen and put a stop to its destruction. The increasing availability of C. sakazakii genome sequences from methods such as comparative analyses of the strains is contributing to further research findings.


Project Thesis submitted to Cork Institute of Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of M.Sc. in Computational Biology.

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