Thirty percent of deaths in the world are still due to infectious diseases, and bacteria form a significant part of the microorganisms responsible for these fatal diseases. The threat of bacterial infections is all the more worrying as we are faced with a dramatic increase in the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In addition, the last few years have witnessed renewed interest in bacteria following the discovery of the key role bacterial microbiota play in the health of the hosts they colonize. Finally, the use of new technologies (such as genomics) has revealed the extraordinary diversity and ubiquity of the bacterial world and of microorganisms belonging to another equally fascinating domain of life, archaea.
Bacteria, archaea and their viruses
In the Department of Microbiology, we study bacteria, archaea and their viruses. These organisms are studied to understand how they contribute to the development of infectious diseases but also, as models to explore the most fundamental aspects of cells at the molecular level, following the example of our illustrious predecessors at the Institut Pasteur, François Jacob, Jacques Monod and André Lwoff (1965 Nobel Prize in Medicine).
The multidisciplinary research carried out in the Department of Microbiology is based on three main areas:
- Study of fundamental processes at work in bacteria and archaea, whether they are in isolated form or complex communities. We are interested in regulatory mechanisms, metabolism, components of the bacterial envelope and determinants of microbial shape.
- Research on the virulence factors and mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria, their interaction with the hosts they infect, and the immune response and strategies used by bacteria to escape this response.
- Antibiotic resistance, vaccines and the development of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic tools to treat bacterial infections.
For these studies, we use multidisciplinary approaches, including molecular genetics and microbial physiology together with immunology and cell and structural biology. In addition, we use cutting-edge imaging and microscopy techniques as well as biophysical methods. Large-scale approaches enable us to address all aspects of genomics and evolutionary biology.
Research conducted in the Department of Microbiology not only improves our understanding of the life cycle of the microorganisms we study, but is also essential for the development of new diagnostic tools and therapies that could potentially be used to treat bacterial infections.
Hilde de Reuse
Director of the Department of Microbiology
Research on microorganisms has been one of the Institut Pasteur’s founding scientific fields since its creation in 1887. Work carried out in the Department of Microbiology follows on from this tradition, while renewing it on a daily basis, in order to characterize the molecular functions that enable bacteria to interact with their environment and, for some of them, to cause disease.