My research on the ecology of pathogens is concerned with the study of how interactions with the environment affects the biology of pathogens — in terms of their survival and proliferation in the different ecosystems of the human body (or other hosts), in terms of dispersal routes, and in terms of competition for available niches between strains and species. Understanding pathogen ecology is instrumental for gaining insight into the role of the environment as a dissemination route and reservoir of pathogens, as well as how and where pathogen evolution is likely to take place. These processes firmly link pathogen ecology to the study of environmental antibiotic resistance.

This far, my work within this field has mostly been concerned with pathogen dispersal through sewage treatment processes, and how the spatial distribution of Helicobacter pylori and other bacteria in the human stomach affects gastric cancer development. I am, however, also interested in how pathogen dispersal and evolution can be modeled and how concepts from metacommunity theory can be applied to better understand infectious diseases. Also, I am interested in using metagenomics to estimate contamination with human feces in microbial communities from different environments, trying to define bioinformatic marker species for fecal detection.

Open questions of interest

  1. What is the role of other bacterial species than Helicobacter pylori in gastric cancer development?
  2. Do different H. pylori strains compete for available niches in the human stomach, or is there a strong founder effect?
  3. What are the implications of spatial distribution of human infections?
  4. What are the dispersal barriers for pathogens, and how do these influence human health?
  5. How do dormant species contribute to infection, disease spread and the “rare biosphere”?

Key publications

  • Papers in revision/under preparation for submission.