School of Medical Sciences

Applied and Biomedical Bacteriology

Principal investigator


  • Biofilms in infection 
  • Antimicrobial surfaces 
  • Water contaminants
  • Bioremediation

Applied and Biomedical Bacteriology research group


  • Priscila Dauros
  • Julia Robertson
  • Mandy Ng
  • Anna Vesty


  • Adeline le Coqq


  1. The activities of bacterial pathogens in biofilms and infection. Bacteria express infection and biofilm specific phenotypic traits. We are interested in identifying genes and proteins responsible for these traits and elucidating the advantages they provide for the bacterium. In particular we are interested in identifying the environmental signals and molecular mechanisms contributing to the differential regulation of these traits. We are currently investigating the effect of the transition of bacteria from an iron restricted to an iron replete environment, modelling what we hypothesize will happen during a successful infection. Favourite organisms at the moment: Staphylococcus aureus and uropathogenic Escherichia coli.
  2. Antimicrobial polymers. Industries including, but certainly not restricted to, food and healthcare would benefit from antimicrobial and contamination resistant surfaces. We are part of the Hybrid Plastics team at the University of Auckland, investigating novel antimicrobial polymers, their mode of action, their biocompatibility and their wider applications.
    For more information visit the Antimicrobial polymers website
  3. Water contaminants. Man’s activities contaminate the environment. We are interested in new contaminants of our waters and their interactions with bacteria. Included are toxic trace metals, pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs). We are using microbial biosensors to detect the presence of contaminants, and assessing the role of microbes from the environment and from waste water treatment in releasing or degrading contaminants. This research is led from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
    For more information visit the Water and environmental research website
  4. The role of biosurfactant producing bacteria in bioremediation. Some species of bacteria are able degrade toxic chemicals polluting our environment. The interaction of microbiology and engineering expertise will improve the efficiency of bio-transformations detoxifying pollutants. We are interested in identifying the important genes involved in bioremediation activities and evaluating their expression during the bioremediation process under controlled conditions that model potentially beneficial engineering scenarios. The level of gene expression is then correlated with the amount and duration of bioremediation activity. We are currently investigating the roles biosurfactants can play in the improvement of bioremediation. This research is led from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
    For more information visit the Water and environmental research website
  5. Bacteriology. We are always happy to collaborate with researchers and industry requiring bacteriology expertise in biomedical fields.
    If you think we can help you contact Simon Swift:

A wider view of microbiology expertise available at the University of Auckland can be found through the Centre for Microbial Innovation.

Recent research publications

Chen JL, Ravindran S, Swift S, Wright LJ, Singhal N. 2012. Catalytic oxidative degradation of 17α-ethinylestradiol by Fe(III)-TAML/H(2)O(2): Estrogenicities of the products of partial, and extensive oxidation. Water Res. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2012.09.012.

Wood AJ, Fraser JD, Swift S, Patterson-Emanuelson EA, Amirapu S, Douglas RG. 2012. Intramucosal bacterial microcolonies exist in chronic rhinosinusitis without inducing a local immune response. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 26:265-70.

Gizdavic-Nikolaidis MR, Bennett JR, Zujovic Z, Swift S, Bowmaker G. 2012. Characterization and antimicrobial efficacy of acetone extracted aniline oligomers. Synthetic Met. 162:1114-9.

Gargiulo DA, Sheridan J, Webster CS, Swift S, Torrie J, Weller J, Henderson K, Hannam J, Merry AF. 2012. Anaesthetists’ contribution to healthcare-associated infection: a prospective simulation-based evaluation of aseptic techniques in the administration of anaesthetic drugs. Brit Med J Qual Safety. 21:826-34.

Hewitt B, Singhal N, Elliot RG, Chen AY, Kuo JY, Vanholsbeeck F, Swift S. 2012. Novel fiber optic detection method for in situ analysis of fluorescently labelled biosensor organisms. Environ Sci Technol. 46:5414-21.

 Young JM, Aislabie J, Broda DM, de Lisle GW, Maas EW, Morgan H, O’Callaghan M, Swift S, Turner SJ. 2011. Chapter One: Kingdom Bacteria. In: New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity Volume 3: Kingdoms Bacteria, Protozoa, Chromista, Plantae, Fungi. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch 25-49.

Gizdavic-Nikolaidis MR, Ray S, Bennett JR, Swift S, Bowmaker, G, Easteal AJ. 2011. Electrospun Poly(aniline-co-ethyl 3-aminobenzoate)/Poly(lactic acid) Nanofibers and their Potential in Biomedical Application. J Polymer Sci Part A: Polymer Chem. 49:4902–10.

Oehlers SH, Flores MV, Hall CJ, Swift S, Crosier KE, Crosier PS. 2011. The inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) susceptibility genes NOD1 and NOD2 have conserved anti-bacterial roles in zebrafish. Dis Model Mech. 4:832-41.

Gizdavic-Nikolaidis MR, Bennett JR, Swift S, Easteal AJ, Ambrose M. 2011. Broad-spectrum Antimicrobial Activity of Functionalized Polyanilines. Acta Biomater. 7:4204-9.

Wood AJ, Fraser J, Swift S, Amirapu S, Douglas RG. 2011. Are biofilms associated with an inflammatory response in chronic rhinosinusitis? Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 1:335-9.

Hewitt B, Singhal N, Swift S. 2011. Bioremediation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. In: Bioremediation: Biotechnology, Engineering and Environmental Management. Ed. Mason AC. Nova Science Publishers. New York, USA.

Elliot R, Singhal N, Swift S. 2011. Surfactants and bacterial bioremediation of polyaromatic hydrocarbon contaminated soil – unlocking the targets. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol. 41:78-124.

Dean SJ, Petty A, Swift S, McGhee JJ, Sharma A, Shah S, Craig JP. 2011. Efficacy and safety assessment of a novel ultraviolet C device for treating corneal bacterial infections. Clin Experiment Ophthalmol. 39:156-63.

Song Y, Swift S, Swedlund PJ, Singhal N. 2011. Cadmium (II) distribution in complex aquatic systems containing ferrihydrite, bacteria and an organic ligand: The effect of bioactivity. Appl Geochem. 26:898-906.

Wood AJ, Fraser J, Swift S, Amirapu S, Douglas RG. 2011. Are biofilms associated with an inflammatory response in chronic rhinosinusitis? Int Forum Allergy Rhinology, 1: n/a. doi: 10.1002/alr.20060

Earl EA, Altaf M, Murikoli RV, Swift S, O'Toole R. 2010. Native New Zealand plants with inhibitory activity towards Mycobacterium tuberculosis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 10:25.

Rowe MC, Withers H, Swift S. 2010. Uropathogenic Escherichia coli forms biofilm aggregates under iron-restriction that disperse upon the supply of iron. FEMS Microbiol Letts. 307:102-109.

Gottfried A, Singhal N, Elliot R, Swift S. 2010. The role of salicylate and biosurfactant in inducing phenanthrene degradation in batch soil slurries. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 86: 1563-1571.

Feng W, Singhal N, Swift S. 2009. Drainage mechanism of microbubble dispersion and factors influencing its stability. J Colloid Interface Sci. 337:548-554.

Song Y, Swedlund PJ, Singhal N, Swift S. 2009. Cadmium(II) speciation in complex aquatic systems: a study with ferrihydrite, bacteria, and an organic ligand. Environ Sci Technol. 43:7430-7436.

Oehlers SH, Flores MV, Hall CJ, O'Toole R, Swift S, Crosier KE, Crosier PS. 2009. Expression of zebrafish cxcl8 (interleukin-8) and its receptors during development and in response to immune stimulation. Dev Comp Immunol. 34: 352-359.

Song Y, Singhal N, Swedlund P, Swift S. 2008. Modeling Cd2+ sorption onto ferrihydrite in the presence of phthalic acid. Water Sci Technol. 58:2373-2379.

Chuang V, Wen J, Alany R, Swift S, Chan A, Choi D, Hy S, Wong I, Kumar H, Bunt C. 2008. Effects of Selected Pharmaceutical Agents on Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Controlled Release of Bioactive Materials, 35.

Swift S, Rowe MC, Kamath MP. 2007. Quorum sensing, In:W. El-Sharoud (ed.), Bacterial Physiology: A molecular approach., (XVIedn), Chennai, India, Springer, p.179-232.

Wei JR, Soo PC, Horng YT, Hsieh SC, Tsai YH, Swift S, Withers HL, Williams P, Lai HC. 2006. Regulatory roles of spnT, a novel gene located within the transposon TnTIR', Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 348:1038-1046.

Lai HC, Soo PC, Wei JR, Yi WC, Liaw SJ, Horng YT, Lin SM, Ho SW, Swift S, Williams P. 2005. The RssAB two-component signal transduction system in Serratia marcescens regulates swarming motility and cell envelope architecture in response to exogenous saturated fatty acids. J Bacteriol. 187:3407-3414.

McDougall S, Parker K, Swift S, Harcourt S, Sutherland G. 2004. Effect of dose of Streptococcus uberis infused into the mammary gland of lactating cows on clinical signs, bacterial count, somatic cell count and milk production. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production. 64:143-146.

Kirke DF, Swift S, Lynch MJ, Williams P. 2004. The Aeromonas hydrophila LuxR homologue AhyR regulates the N-acyl homoserine lactone synthase, AhyI positively and negatively in a growth phase dependent manner. FEMS Microbiol Letts. 241:109-117.

Swift S. 2003. Quorum Sensing: Approaches to identify signals and signalling genes in Gram-negative bacteria. In: Methods and Tools in Biosciences and Medicine: Prokaryotic Genomics and Genetics (Blot, M. Ed.) Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland. 110-130.

Swift S. 2002. Quantitative and qualitative changes in bacterial activity controlled by interbacterial signalling. In: Advances in Cellular and Molecular Microbiology 3: Dormancy and low growth states in microbial disease (Coates, A.R.M. Ed.) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 101-129.