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Rosca
...
DP_AEM student
Centro de Engenharia Biológica (CEB)
Doctoral Program in Chemical and Biological Engineering (CEB)
2016-2020
Nuno Cerca
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Phd Thesis

Multi-species biofilms in bacterial vaginosis: ecological interactions and susceptibility to novel antimicrobial agents (PD/BD/128037/2016) - Thesis defence 02.07.2021

Bacterial vaginosis (BV), the most common cause of vaginal discharge, is associated with serious gynaecologic and obstetric complications. The hallmark of BV is the presence of a polymicrobial biofilm on the vaginal epithelium, presumably initiated and mainly formed by Gardnerella species. However, the BV biofilm is also populated by many other anaerobes, but very little is known about their role in BV development. It has been shown that this polymicrobial biofilm may increase the survival of Gardnerella and other BV-associated species when exposed to antibiotics, as such causing high recurrence rates of BV. This triggered the interest in exploring agents that have been claimed to disrupt biofilms, such as plant-derived products, namely Thymbra capitata essential oil (EO).

Therefore, we investigated the interactions between Gardnerella vaginalis and other BV-associated species in BV biofilms, aiming to understand how they impact BV development and treatment outcome. First, two in vitro triple-species biofilm formation models were used, with and without allowing G. vaginalis to form an early biofilm before adding the other two species. The data from this study revealed that independent of the model used, all species were able to form triple-species biofilms, in which G. vaginalis was always the predominant species. Interestingly, we observed that in some triple-species consortia, synergistic interactions affected the antibiotic treatment outcome, leading to an enhanced tolerance. Second, when applying T. capitata EO against multi-species biofilms consisting of six cultivable BV-associated species, we observed that the interactions between the species also influenced, to some extent, the EO antimicrobial activity.

The data collected in this study further highlight (i) the pivotal role of Gardnerella in BV polymicrobial biofilms, (ii) how interactions between bacteria in multi-species biofilms impact the biofilm formation and antimicrobial susceptibility, and (iii) the antimicrobial potential of T. capitata EO against multi-species BV-associated biofilms. These findings could help to further shape novel treatment approaches based on T. capitata EO in order to prevent BV and reduce its recurrence.

Publication and Meetings

Peer-Reviewed Articles:

Rosca AS*, Castro J*, Sousa LGV, Cerca N (2020) Gardnerella and vaginal health: the truth is out there. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 44, 1, 73-105. doi: 10.1093/femsre/fuz027. *Both authors contributed equally

Castro J*, Rosca AS*, Cools P, Vaneechoutte M, Cerca N (2020) Gardnerella vaginalis enhances Atopobium vaginae viability in an in vitro model. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 10, 83. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2020.00083. *Both authors contributed equally

 

Book chapters:

Rosca A and Cerca N (2018) Bacterial Vaginosis. In Diagnostics to Pathogenomics of Sexually Transmitted Infections, ed. Sunit K. Singh PhD. Chapter 13, pp. 257–275. doi: 10.1002/9781119380924.ch13

8th Workshop of the doctoral program in Applied and Environmental Microbiology (DP_AEM), 10 – 12 February 2020, Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.

7th Workshop of the doctoral program in Applied and Environmental Microbiology (DP_AEM), 24 – 27 September 2018, Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.

• 3rd Joint BIOTECnico and AEM PhD programs workshop, 11-12 June 2018, Instituto Superior Técnico, Campus Alameda, Lisbon, Portugal. (Oral presentation: Ecological characterization of mixed-species biofilms associated with bacterial vaginosis)

2nd Joint Workshop of the PhD programs in Applied and Environmental Microbiology (DP_AEM) and Molecular and Environmental Biology (PDBMA), 25 – 29 September 2017, Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal. (Oral presentation: Multi-species biofilms in bacterial vaginosis: ecological interactions and resistance to novel antimicrobial agents)

• 2nd Joint BIOTECnico and AEM PhD programs workshop, 15-16 February 2017, Instituto Superior Técnico, Campus Alameda, Lisbon, Portugal. (Oral presentation: Bacterial Vaginosis)

• 1st Joint Workshop of the PhD Programs in Applied and Environmental Microbiology (DP_AEM) and Molecular and Environmental Biology (PDBMA), 26 – 30 September 2016, Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.


 

Poster Communications:

6. Rosca AVaneechoutte M, Cerca N. Gardnerella spp. pre-conditioned vs competitive multi-species biofilm growth and the impact on the tridimensional biofilm structure. MICROBIOTEC'19. Coimbra, Portugal, 5 – 7 December 2019.

5. Rosca A, Castro J, Cerca N. The effect of culture media on in vitro growth and biofilm formation of Bacterial vaginosis (BV)-associated pathogens. MICROBIOTEC'19. Coimbra, Portugal, 5 – 7 December 2019.

4. Castro J, Rosca A, Cools P, Vaneechoutte M, Cerca N. Gardnerella vaginalis enhances Atopobium vaginae viability in vitro. MICROBIOTEC'19. Coimbra, Portugal, 5 – 7 December 2019.

3. Rosca A, Vaneechoutte M, Cerca N. Probing for bacterial interactions in Bacterial Vaginosis using an in vitro tri-species biofilm model. IUSTI 2018 World & European Congress. Dublin, Ireland, 27 – 30 June 2018.

2. Rosca A, Martins AP, Castro J, Cerca N. Development of an in vitro vaginal exudate adhesion model for Bacterial Vaginosis. MICROBIOTEC'17. Porto, Portugal, 7 – 9 December 2017.

1. Martins AP, Castro J, Rosca A, Rodrigues ME, Cerca N. L. crispatus protects Hela cells against G. vaginalis cytotoxicity. EUROBIOFILMS 2017. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 19 – 22 September 2017.

2. Rosca A, Cerca N, Vaneechoutte M. Interactions between Gardnerella vaginalis and other Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)-related species in an in vitro biofilm model. Research Day & Student Research Symposium. Ghent, Belgium, 19th of April 2018. (poster)

1. CEB Scientific Annual Meeting 2017. University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, 6th of July 2017.

Training

4. Mouse genetics; models for human diseases, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Trieste, Italy, 25 – 28 March 2019.

3. Learning from bacteriophages – advantages and limitations of phage and phage-encoded protein applications, a short seminar held by Prof. Dr. Zuzanna Drulis-Kawa from the Institute of Genetics and Microbiology, Department of Pathogen Biology and Immunology, University of Wroclaw, Poland. Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, 23rd of February 2018.

2. Mini-Symposium: Systems Biology meets Medicine, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, 19th of February 2018.

1. Phage Therapy and Immunology, a short seminar held by Prof. Dr. Krystyna Dabrowska from the Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wroclaw, Poland. Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, 13th of December 2017. 

 

2. Confocal Microscopy Short Course. University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, 22 - 23 May 2017.

1. Proteome 2 Gene 2 Protein Course. University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, 20 - 22 December 2016.

 

3. Workshop on transferable skills with Dr. Cátia Marques. Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, 11 - 12 February 2020.

2. Communication skills (course level 2) with Dr. Ana Salgado. Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, February – July 2017.

1. Communication skills (course level 1) with Dr. Ana Salgado. Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, 29th of September 2016.

Awards

Current position:

- Research fellow at the Laboratory Bacteriology Research, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.