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Dr Brian Ho

Lecturer in Bacteriology

Contact details


tel: +44 (0)20 7631 6809

address: Room G53, Department of Biological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HX

Research lab website

ISMB-funded studentship in bacterial cell-cell interactions in microbial communities - Application deadline: 13 September 2019

Research interests

  • Contact-dependent secretion systems in microbial communities

    My group is interested in understanding how underlying bacterial cell-cell interactions shape larger macroscopic population dynamics and microbial community structure. Specifically, my research focuses on studying the type 4 secretion system (T4SS) and type 6 secretion system (T6SS). Both T4SS and T6SS are employed by a wide variety of bacteria to deliver biomolecules into neighboring cells. The T4SS notably mediates horizontal gene transfer between bacterial cells through conjugative transfer of DNA, while the T6SS is used by bacteria to deliver toxic effectors into adjacent bacterial or eukaryotic cells.

    My work includes identification of essential gene components of the T6SS of Vibrio cholerae, identification a new class of secreted T6SS effectors, and observations on how the T6SS of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is activated in response to external stimuli, including how the T6SS can respond to T4SS-mediate DNA conjugation events. More recently, my research has turned toward studying the role of T6SS in more complicated microbial communities, such as during Vibrio cholerae infection, as well as developing biotechnological applications of the T4SS and T6SS.

Research supervision

  • Our lab is currently recruiting talented students excited about doing research. Students will receive training in a number of areas, including microbiology, molecular genetics and fluorescence microscopy. Feel free to contact Brian by email to discuss available projects. Prospective graduate students should apply through the ISMB's PhD programs.

Selected publications

  • Fu Y, Ho BT, Mekalanos JJ. Tracking Vibrio cholerae Cell-Cell Interactions during Infection Reveals Bacterial Population Dynamics within Intestinal Microenvironments. Cell Host Microbe. 2018 Feb 14;23(2):274-281.e2.

    Ho BT, Fu Y, Dong TG, Mekalanos JJ. Vibrio cholerae type 6 secretion system effector trafficking in target bacterial cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Aug 29;114(35):9427-9432.

    Ho BT, Basler M, Mekalanos JJ. Type 6 secretion system-mediated immunity to type 4 secretion system-mediated gene transfer. Science. 2013 Oct 11;342(6155):250-3

Dr Brian Ho