Isabela Fernandes de Oliveira

Twitter: @Isabela_mfo

Host-Microbe Interactomics Group (HMI)
Wageningen University and Research, Animal Sciences
Zodiac Building 122 De Elst 1, 6708WD/Office E1205
Wageningen (The Netherlands) 

Education and Experience

January 2015, I finished my studies and obtained my bachelor's degree in Biological Science at the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), Minas Gerais/Brazil. Where in an interdisciplinary and very dynamic environment I progressively specialized in microbiology, developing skills in an advanced laboratory techniques, organization and analysis of experimental results.

During my scientific internship I spent 5 years at the Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology and Biodiversity and at the Anaerobic Microbiology Laboratory gaining experience and knowledge in culturing aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms, evaluation of antimicrobial activities in vitro, molecular biology, and so on. Besides, I have had contact and worked for a while with practical activities in physiology and biochemistry laboratories teaching and supervising students .

Apart of my undergraduate studies, I have worked in different voluntary project and developed my proactivity, teamwork and leadership skills from supporting groups of young students in different projects. We would set up laboratory experiments to manage projects, schedules, and consulting services, most of them proposed by the Junior Enterprise of Biology and AIESEC, places where I was able to develop social skills.

Following the same line I have obtained a master's degree in Microbiology by the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV) in August 2017. My master's degree project explored genomic approaches as well as culture-dependent techniques to discover novel antimicrobials in the rumen ecosystem. For six months I moved to Wales for a professional/academic exchange at the University of Aberystwyth, in the institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences. Period when I had an amazing experience and grew up a lot personally and as researcher. 

Project of ESR7: Microbiota as a source of new antimicrobials and colonization resistance against S. suis infections

The microbiotas of the soft palate tonsil and nose of pigs are of particular interest due to the association of these body sites with common swine diseases or pathogens. These microbiotas provide a first line of defence against external invaders as competition and interaction between bacteria can protect a host from becoming colonized with particular pathogens. Streptococcus suis, a gram positive bacteria, natural commensal of the upper respiratory tract of pigs it is facultative pathogen can cause highly invasive infections as meningitis, sepsis and endocarditis. Efforts to reduce the preventative use of antibiotics in livestock farming and lack of effective vaccines has led to reduce an emergence of this pathobiont. S. suis is also an emerging zoonotic pathogen and human infections worldwide have increased significantly in the past years, with most cases originating in Southeast Asia.

Colonisation of the palatine tonsils with piglet microbiota may have an impact on colonisation of S. suis and risk of invasive disease. To identify bacterial taxa positively or negatively correlated with S. suis abundance on the palatine tonsils, we are collecting microbiological samples from the tonsil of piglets around weaning. The developing microbiota of piglets is particularly vulnerable to unbalance which can result in long-term impacts that may affect the susceptibility to several diseases and also the growth capability. Peptide or small molecule inhibitors, as non-ribosomal peptide synthetize (NRPS) and bacterial taxa with strong co- and anti-occurrences with S. suis have already been identified. It may be responsible for direct microbial antagonism and as such could play a role in colonisation resistance by commensal species against pathogenic microbes. A culturomics approach has been used to identify commensals which in inhibit growth of S. suis and other pathogens. Key abundant bacterial species present in the oropharyngeal biofilms of healthy animals on farms without a recent history of problems with S. suis will be tested for their capacity to drive the development of microbial communities that provide colonisation resistance against pathogens in the weaning period.