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Microbiology Logo Microbiology & Immunology
Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

Dr Daniel Pletzer

Job description:


Research interests:

Infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, host-pathogen interaction, microbial pathogens, nanomedicines

Current research:

Our research is focused on recalcitrant ESKAPE (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species) pathogens; especially hard-to-treat clinical isolates involved in multidrug resistance, biofilm infections and persistence. We are especially interested in bacteria that have been categorized as "critical" priority pathogens by the World Health Organization. This includes multidrug resistant organisms that cause severe and often deadly infections and therefore pose an enormous threat in hospitals.

To address this issue, research in the Pletzer Lab focuses on fighting infectious diseases and tackling antimicrobial resistance using innovative and interdisciplinary approaches. 

Our lab seeks to  1) understand how microbes cause disease2) fight antimicrobial resistance with novel nanomedicines, and 3) develop new antimicrobial strategies

 For more information click here:

Logo Pletzer positive blue

Pletzer Lab 2022


Sam Nikita2
  Dr. Sam Wardell  Nikita Lyons   
 Assistant Research Fellow (ARF)

 Assistant Research Fellow (ARF)   

Postgraduate students

PhD students

Deborah Yung2   Minati copy2   Catherine Ross 8x11   Kathy Sircombe3
Deborah Yung  

Minati Choudhury

  Catherine Ross
  Kathy Sircombe 

MSc students

Alana Hampson3  
 Alana Hampson  


BSc (Hons) students

Shuying Wee copy Jess Henricks  Logo Pletzer positive blue copy Logo Pletzer positive black
Shuying Wee Jess Henricks Tiu Cullen Bianca Tawatao  


Postgraduate opportunities: 

Interested candidates with a BSc(Hons) or MSc degree are highly encouraged to apply if their research interest and experience matches any of the following themes: Microbiology, Immunology, Biochemistry, Genetics, or Bioinformatics. 

All candidates must be eligible for admission to the University of Otago and apply for a MSc or PhD scholarship ( The scholarship is available to both domestic and international students. International students should have a look at the International Office ( for entry requirements and contact the lab beforehand.

If you are interested in joining our lab, please send a cover letter including current research interests, a CV including all published work, a summary of previous research (if applicable), full academic transcripts, and contact information for two-three references.

Scholarly netwoking websites:

ResearchGate - Wikiwand        google scholar        File:ORCID iD.svg - Wikimedia Commons        publons-logo | Geological Society of London blog


Publication list (past 5 years; *authors contributed equally as first author; italic = corresponding author; underscore = lab members):

File:US-NLM-PubMed-Logo.svg - Wikimedia CommonsLogo Pletzer positive black



Biodistribution and toxicity of innate defense regulator 1018 (IDR-1018).

Esposito TVF, Rodriguez-Rodriguez C, Blackadar C, Haney EF, Pletzer D, Hancock REW, Saatchi K, Haefeli UO.

Eur J Pharm Biopharm.


Cellulose composites containing active constituents of coffee and tea: a prospective novel wound dressing.

Firmanda A, Fahma F, Khaswar S, Cabral J, Pletzer D, Marsia G.

Adv Materi.


3D printed cellulose for wound dressing applications.

Fahma F, Firmanda A, Cabral J, Pletzer D, Fisher J, Mahadik B, Arnata I, Sartika D, Wulandari A

3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing

Accepted 07.2022

Targeting the Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence factor phospholipase C with engineered liposomes.

Wolfmeier H, Wardell SJT, Liu LT, Falsafi R, Draeger A, Babiychuk EB, Pletzer D, Hancock REW

Front Microbiol


Self-assembly of antimicrobial peptoids impacts their biological effects on ESKAPE bacterial pathogens.

Nielsen J*, Alford MA*, Yung DBY*, Molchanova N, Fortkort J, Lin J, Diamond G, Hancock REW, Jenssen H, Pletzer D, Lund R, Barron A.

ACS Infect Dis.


Antibiofilm and immunomodulatory resorbable nanofibrous filing for dental pulp regenerative procedures.

Gonçalves da Costa Sousa M, Conceição de Almeida G, Martins Mota DC, Andrade da Costa R, Dias SC, Limberger SN, Ko F, Lin LT, Haney EF, Etayash H, Baquir B, Trimble MJ, Shen Y, Su Z, Haapasalo M, Pletzer D, Chaves de Souza L, Schuindt Teixeira G, Silva RM, Hancock REW, Franco OL, Berto Rezende TM.

Bioact. Mater.


Ultraviolet-C irradiation, heat, and storage as potential methods of inactivating SARS-CoV-2 and bacterial pathogens on filtering facepiece respirators.

Harfoot R, Yung DBY, Anderson WA, Wild CEK, Coetzee N, Hernández LC, Lawley B, Pletzer D, Derraik JGB, Anderson YC, Quiñones-Mateu ME.




Firmanda A, Syamsu K, Sari WY, Cabral J, Pletzer D, Mahadikd B, Fisherd J, Fahma F. 2021. 3D printed cellulose based product applications. Mater Chem Front. 10.1039/D1QM00390A

Drayton M, Alford MA, Pletzer D, Haney E, Machado Y, Luo H, Overall C, Kizhakkedathu J, Hancock REW, Straus SK. 2021. MMP releasable PEG – host defense peptide conjugates with improved activity and biocompatibility. J Control Release10.1016/j.jconrel.2021.09.035

Ren H, Zhang J, Zhou J, Xu C,Fan Z, Pan X, Li S, Liang Y, Chen S,Xu J, Wang P, Zhang Y, Zhu G, Liu H, Jin Y, Bai F, Cheng Z, Pletzer D, Wu W. 2021. Synergistic killing effects of tobramycin with ciprofloxacin and azithromycin against Klebsiella pneumoniaeJ. Antibiot. 10.1038/s41429-021-00427-0

Wilkinson LV, Alford MA, Coleman SR, Wu BC, Lee AHY, Blimkie TM, Bains M, Falsafi R, Pletzer D, Hancock REW. 2021. Peptide 1018 inhibits swarming and influences Anr-regulated gene expression downstream of the stringent stress response in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. PLoS One10.1371/journal.pone.0250977

Khomtchouk KM, Joseph LI, Khomtchouk BB, Kouhi A, Massa S, Xia A, Koliesnik I, Pletzer D, Bollyky PL, Santa Maria PL. 2021. Treatment with a neutrophil elastase inhibitor and ofloxacin reduces Pseudomonas aeruginosa burden in a mouse model of chronic suppurative otitis media. NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes10.1038/s41522-021-00200-z

Yung DBY, Sircombe KJPletzer D#. 2021. Friends or enemies? The complicated relationship between Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureusMol Microbiol10.1111/mmi.14699

Alford MA, Choi KG, Trimble MJ, Masoudi H, Kalsi P, Pletzer D, Hancock REW. 2021. Murine models of sinusitis infection for screening antimicrobial & immunomodulatory therapies. Front Cell Infect Microbiol10.3389/fcimb.2021.621081

Pletzer D, Asnis J, Slavin YN, Hancock REW, Bach H, Saatchi K, Haefeli UO. 2021. Rapid microwave-based method for the preparation of antimicrobial lignin-capped silver nanoparticles active against multidrug-resistant bacteria. Int J Pharm10.1016/j.ijpharm.2021.120299

Guzel FD, Pletzer D, Dizaji AN, Al-Nahas K, Bajrai M, Winterhalter M. 2021. Towards understanding single-channel characteristics of OccK8 directly purified from Pseudomonas aeruginosaEur Biophys J10.1007/s00249-021-01498-5


Coleman S, Pletzer D, Hancock REW. 2020. Contribution of swarming motility to dissemination in a Pseudomonas aeruginosa murine skin abscess infection model. J Infect Dis10.1093/infdis/jiaa778

Wu B, Haney EF, Akhoundsadegh N, Pletzer D, Trimble M, Adriaans AE, Nibbering PH, Hancock REW. 2020. Human organoid biofilm model for assessing antibiofilm activity of novel agents. NPJ Biofilms MicrobiomesS41522-020-00182-4

Belanger CR, Lee AHY, Pletzer D, Dhillon BK, Falsafi R, Hancock REW. 2020. Identification of novel targets of azithromycin activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa grown in physiologically relevant media. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A10.1073/pnas.2007626117

Pletzer D*, Etayash H*, Yuxin Q*, Qiang Z*, Jiayang X, Ruxin C, Chengzhi D, Pengcheng M, Fan Q, Runhui L, Hancock REW. 2020. Host defense peptide-mimicking amphiphilic β-peptide polymer (Bu:DM) exhibiting anti-biofilm, immunomodulatory and in vivo anti-infective activity. J Med Chem10.1021/acs.jmedchem.0c01321

Copp J, Pletzer D, Brown A, Heijden J, Miton CM, Edgar RJ, Rich M, Little R, Williams E, Hancock REW, Tokuriki N, Ackerley DF. 2020. Mechanistic understanding enables the rational design of salicylanilide combination therapies for Gram-negative infections. mBio10.1128/mBio.02068-20

Etayash H, Pletzer D, Kumar P, Straus S, Hancock REW. 2020. A cyclic derivative of host-defence peptide IDR-1018 improves proteolytic stability, suppresses inflammation, and enhances in vivo activity. J Med Chem10.1021/acs.jmedchem.0c00303

Pletzer D#, Blimkie TM, Wolfmeier H, Li Y, Baghela A, Lee AHY, Falsafi R, Hancock REW#. 2020. The stringent stress response controls proteases and global regulators under optimal growth conditions in Pseudomonas aeruginosamSystems10.1128/mSystems.00495-20

Khomtchouk KM, Kouhi A, Xia A, Bekale LA, Massa SM, Sweere JM, Pletzer D, Hancock REW, Bollyky PL, Santa Maria PL. 2020. A novel mouse model of chronic suppurative otitis media and its use in preclinical antibiotic evaluations. Sci Adv10.1126/sciadv.abc1828

Moosavian M, Emam N, Pletzer D, Savari M. 2020. Rough-type and loss of the LPS due to lpx genes deletions are associated with colistin resistance in multidrug-resistant clinical Escherichia coli isolates not harbouring mcr genes. PLoS One10.1371/journal.pone.0233518

Alford MA, Baghela A, Yeung, ATY, Pletzer D, Hancock, REW. 2020. NtrBC regulates invasiveness and virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa during high-density infection. Front Microbiol10.3389/fmicb.2020.00773

Pletzer D*, Sun E*, Ritchie CT, Wilkinson L, Liu LT, Trimble MJ, Wolfmeier H, Blimkie TM, Hancock REW. 2020. Surfing motility is a complex adaptation dependent on the stringent stress response in Pseudomonas aeruginosa LESB58. PLoS Pathog16(3):e1008444


Woehlk H, Trimble MJ, Mansour SC, Pletzer D, Trouillet V, Welle A, Barner L, Hancock REW, Barner-Kowollik C, Fairfull-Smith KE. 2019. Controlling biofilm formation with nitroxide functional surfaces. Polym Chem. 10:4252-4258

Kłodzińska SN, Pletzer D, Rahanjam N, Rades T, Hancock REW, Nielsen HM. 2019. Hyaluronic acid-based nanogels improve the in vivo compatibility of the anti-biofilm peptide DJK-5. Nanomedicine. doi:10.1016/j.nano.2019.102022.

Pletzer D*, Alford MA*, Hancock REW. 2019. Dismantling the bacterial virulence program. Microb Biotechnol. doi:10.1111/1751-7915.13388


Pletzer D*, Kumar P*, Haney EF, Rahanjam N, Cheng JTJ, Yue M, Aljehani W, Hancock REW, Kizhakkedathu JN, Straus SK. 2018. Aurein-derived antimicrobial peptides formulated with pegylated phospholipid micelles to target methicillin-resistant S. aureus skin infections. ACS Infect Dis.10.1021/acsinfecdis.8b00319

Pletzer D, Hancock REW. 2018. Is synergy the key to treating high-density infections?. Future Microbiol. doi: 10.2217/fmb-2018-0216

Wolfmeier H, Mansour SC, Liu LT, Pletzer D, Draeger A, Babiychuk EB, Hancock REW. 2018. Liposomal therapy attenuates dermonecrosis induced by community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus by targeting alpha-type phenol-soluble modulins and alpha-hemolysin. EBioMedicine. 33:211-217

Pletzer D, Mansour SC, Hancock REW. 2018. Synergy between conventional antibiotics and antibiofilm peptides in a murine, sub-cutaneous abscess model caused by recalcitrant ESKAPE pathogens. PLoS Pathog. 14(6):e1007084

Windham IH, Servetas SL, Whitmire JM, Pletzer D, Hancock REW, Merrell SD. 2018. Helicobacter pylori biofilm formation is differentially affected by common culture conditions, and proteins play a central role in the biofilm matrix. Appl Environ Microbiol. 84(14). pii: e00391-18

Luscher A, Moynie L, Auguste PS, Bumann D, Mazza L, Pletzer D, Naismith J, Koehler T. 2018. TonB-dependent receptor repertoire of Pseudomonas aeruginosa for uptake of siderophore-drug conjugates. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 62(6). pii: e00097-18

Pletzer D*, Haney EF*, Hancock REW. 2018. Impact of host defence peptides on chronic wounds and infections. Title of book: Recent clinical techniques, results, and research in wounds. Editors: Melvin A. Shiffman, Mervin Low. Springer, Cham. 1-17.


Pletzer D*, Wolfmeier H*, Mansour SC*, Hancock REW. 2017. New perspectives in biofilm eradication. ACS Infect Dis. 4(2):93-106

Pletzer D, Wolfmeier H, Bains M, Hancock REW. 2017. Synthetic peptides target stringent response-controlled virulence in a Pseudomonas aeruginosa murine cutaneous infection model. Front Microbiol. 8:1867

Pletzer D*, Belanger C*, Mansour SC*, Hancock REW. 2017. Alternative strategies for the study and treatment of clinical bacterial biofilms. Emerg Top Life Sci. ETLS20160020

Pothula KR, Dhanasekar NN, Lamichhane U, Younas F, Pletzer D, Benz R, Winterhalter M, Kleinekathoefer U. 2017. Single residue acts as gate in OccK channels. J Phys Chem B. 121(12):2614-2621

Pletzer D, Mansour SC, Rahanjam N, Wuerth K, Hancock REW. 2017. New mouse model for chronic infections by Gram-negative bacteria enabling the study of anti-infective efficacy and host-microbe interactions. mBio. 8(1). pii: e00140-17

Moynie L, Luscher A, Rolo D, Pletzer D, Tortajada A, Weingart H, Braun Y, Page MG, Naismith JH, Koehler T. 2017. Structure and function of the PiuA and PirA siderophore-drug receptors from P. aeruginosa and A. baumannii. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 61(4). pii: e02531-16

Chalhoub H, Pletzer D, Weingart H, Braun Y, Tunney MM, Elborn JS, Rodriguez-Villalobos H, Plesiat P, Kahl BC, Denis O, Winterhalter M, Tulkens PM, Van Bambeke F. 2017. Mechanisms of intrinsic resistance and acquired susceptibility of Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolated from cystic fibrosis patients to temocillin, a revived antibiotic. Sci Rep. 7:40208


Other relevant older publications:

Mansour SC, Pletzer D, de la Fuente-Nunez C, Kim P, Cheung GY, Joo HS, Otto M, Hancock REW. 2016. Bacterial abscess formation is controlled by the stringent stress response and can be targeted therapeutically. EBioMedicine. 12:219-226

Pletzer D, Hancock REW. 2016. Antibiofilm peptides: Potential as broad-spectrum agents. J Bacteriol. 198(19):2572-2578

Pletzer D*, Coleman SR*, Hancock REW. 2016. Anti-biofilm peptides as a new weapon in antimicrobial warfare. Curr Opin Microbiol. 33:35-40