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

Professor Peter Fineran

Current research:

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Our research goal is to understand the interactions between mobile genetic elements, such as bacteriophages and plasmids, and their bacterial hosts. Our main interest is in phage resistance mechanisms.

The phage-bacterium 'arms race'

Accumulating evidence demonstrates that viruses are the most abundant biological entities on the planet. They outnumber bacteria by approximately 10 to 1 and there are an estimated >1030 tailed bacteriophages globally! The result is an obvious selective pressure for bacteria to acquire resistance to phage attack and for phages to acquire counter defence mechanisms. Indeed, many mechanisms of phage resistance are known, ranging from bacterial cell surface alterations, through restriction and modification, to abortive infection. Our research focuses on:

  1. Abortive infection and toxin-antitoxin 'innate immune systems'
  2. CRISPR-Cas 'adaptive immune systems'
  3. Phages as antimicrobial agents


Past and present funding

Marsden Fund, Royal Society of NZ (RSNZ)
Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
Bio-Protection Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE)
Zespri International Ltd.
Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Germany
Health Research Council (HRC)
Rutherford Discovery Fellowship (RSNZ)
Tertiary Education Commission (TEC)
European Research Commission (ERC), EU