The research

An Australian researcher at the Griffith University Institute for Glycomics recently identified a campylobacter sensor. It is the first known finding of a bacterial sensor that can bind sugar directly. The research showed that the ability of the bacteria to cause disease are based on bacterias’ ability to move toward target host cells, and the movement are dependent on specialized structures on the cells, known as “sensory receptors”. These highly specific receptors can sense chemicals in their environment . The receptor identified in invasive strains of Campylobacter jejuini is a direct-sensing galactose chemoreceptor. (News, 2016)

Electron micrograph of C. jejuni in chicken gut by Griffith University

A study is made where 1 of the receptors, KD of CcrG sensor that binds specifically to galactose, of the Campylobacter is mutated. As a result, it altered the phenotype of the bacteria, which includes reducing the ability to colonise and infect chickens. In the study, the bacteria had increased chemotaxis towards galactose of allelic addition strains, 81116ΩccrG and FF34ΩccrG. This further confirmed that the chemotaxis response to galactose was affected by CcrG. (Day et al., 2016)

This suggest the desgin of antimicrobial drugs to specifically target certain foodborne pathogens without affecting the normal flora. In addition, it could reduce the chances of developing antimicrobial resistance since the bacterial cells are not killed, but inhibiting the cells’ ability to reach host cells.

Understanding how the bacterial sensors bind to chemicals poses huge potential for the future. With the understanding, bacteria can be engineered with sensors that may selectively direct cancer-killing bacteria towards cancer cells or direct bacteria to degrade chemicals released in the environment. (University, 2016)


News, F.S. (2016) Australian research reveals how Campylobacter bacteria work. Available at: (Accessed: 13 November 2016). (News, 2016)

Griffith University. “New way to attack gastro bug: Pathogenicity and host-bacterial interactions of bacteria Campylobacter jejuni.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2016. <>.

Day, C.J., King, R.M., Shewell, L.K., Tram, G., Najnin, T., Hartley-Tassell, L.E., Wilson, J.C., Fleetwood, A.D., Zhulin, I.B. and Korolik, V. (2016) ‘A direct-sensing galactose chemoreceptor recently evolved in invasive strains of Campylobacter jejuni’, 7.


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