Brazil has one of the largest densities of cooling tower/ heat exchange systems in the developed world where they are used for cooling processes as diverse as energy or fuel ethanol production.Biofilm growth on cooling tower matrices presents a major challenge associated with the efficient running of cooling towers. It can lead to microbial-mediated scaling and corrosion and act as a reservoir for the growth of Legionella pneumophila, (the causative agent of Legionnaires disease) which can be dispersed as bioaerosols in the cooling tower drift. Bio control measures have focussed on either the physical removal of the biofilm or the inhibition of biofilm growth on matrices and make-up water. The later may necessitate the use of dangerous and environmentally unfriendly biocides (such as halogens and chloroamines) whilst other control measures (UV, ultrasound, peroxides) have met with limited success.
We have an on-going scientific collaboration with an Irish company which focuses on the development of a biocidal system which generates electrically-charged copper and silver cations. This has proved effective in inhibiting the growth of planktonic human pathogens in the laboratory setting. The aim of the investigation undertaken this Ph.D. is to test the efficacy of the system (including with other metals such as zinc and palladium) for the control of biofilm growth on cooling tower matrices. Experimentation will be carried out using scaled-down cooling towers and modified Robbins devices attached to continuous culture systems in the laboratory. Further physiochemical and molecular based techniques will be used to determine the effect of the generated biocides on biofilm structure, physiology, microbial composition and protein expression in challenged and unchallenged biofilms.
The outcome of this undertaking has a real potential for the development of a novel system for controlling biofilm growth in the industrial setting with a translation of technology to the healthcare sector.
Unique selling points of PhD project in NUI Galway:
Nuigalway offers a four-year Structured `PhD programme – with added learning structures to enhance the scientific researcher. This project is industrially-driven and recognised as being important for the development of the technology by Enterprise Ireland.Within NUIGalway, Dr Fleming’s and Dr. Carroll’s Group are member of the Infectious Disease research Cluster which facilitates cross fertilisation of techniques and offers a forum for discussuon both within Microbiology and across other disciplines.
Dr.’s Carroll and Fleming have many years’ experience in working with continuous culture and biofilms and have developed exciting and novel techniques in this area. Dr. Carroll has developed expertise in 1- and 2-D protein gel electrophoresis for looking at the regulation of proteins in biofilms. Dr. Fleming’s Group leads a dynamic and focus led group with a multidisciplinary approach to research. The ethos of the group is one of fostering the researcher so she/he can realise her/his full potential as a creative and productive scientist. Dr. Fleming has over thirty-year’s experience of working with chemostat culture and has advanced chemostat culture facilities. He has published widely in the field and has well established links with Industry in the use of this medium for selection and enrichment purposes.
Director of the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Microbiology Programme.
Detection and Epidemiology: Design and development of novel targets for use in nucleic acid based diagnostics assays for the detection of bacterial food pathogens.
Use of molecular methods (culture and DNA - based) for detection identificatiuon and epidemiological studies of bacterial food pathogens. Methods include: PCR, PFGE, RAPD, RFLP, Ribotyping, DNA sequencing.
Adaptive Tolerance Response in Campylobacter spp.: Physiological stress response in bacteria and the effect of processing treatments of bacterial survival, virulence and gene expression. In particular the Adaptive Tolerance Response in Campylobacter spp. Methods include the use of proteomics and microarrays.
Study of selective antibiotic resistance mechanisms: Evaluation of the effect of sub-inhibitory concentrations of antibiotics on the selection of single and multiple drug resistance in bacterial pathogens.
Biofilms: Biofilm formation.
Bioactive Ingredients from Algal Sources: Assessment of the effects of the alginate and laminaran extracts on intestinal flora. Novel Antimicrobial tools to limit Campylobacter infection of poultry
Recipient of the President's Award for Teaching Excellence 2011/2012
"The University recognises Dr. Fleming for his outstanding commitment to teaching and the student experience. Dr. Fleming was nominated for his passion about the learning and teaching experience, his range of teaching and assessment methods, and his collegiality and support for fellow staff members. Students highlight his enthusiasm as a teacher, describing him as inspiring, motivating and very approachable."
Professor Tom Sherry, Dean, College of Science at the presentation of the 2011/2012 President's Award for Teaching Excellence to Dr. Gerard Fleming, 25th October 2012
Ph.D. (University College, Galway)
B.Sc. (University College, Galway)
Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (NUI, Galway)
National Diploma in Analytical Chemistry (Regional Technical College, Carlow)
National Certificate in Applied Biology (Regional Technical College, Carlow)
City and Guilds Certificate in Quality Control (London Institute)
The Marine Oceanography Research Unit MORU currently hosts the following research personnel:
1. Aileen Gill: Ph.D. (Microbial Communities of the Deep Mediterranean Sea)
2. Gary McCoy: Ph.D. (Phytoplankton Detection) co-supervised by Dr. Raine (Ryan Institute)
3. Sarah Cosgrove: Ph.D. (Monitoring of Alexandrium Blooms), co-supervised by Dr. Raine (Ryan Institute)
4. Sylvia Soldatou: Ph.D. (Marine Biodiscovery), co-supervised with Prof. Deniz Tasdemir (Chemistry)
5. Donal McGee: Ph.D. (Marine Biodiscovery), co-supervised with Dr. Nicholas Touzet, (Sligo Institute of Technology)
6. Lillit Tonoyon: Ph.D. (Antimicrobials), co-supervised with Prof. Vincent O'Flaherty (Microbiology)
7. Olivia Duignan: Ph.D. (Antimicrobials), co-supervised with Dr. Cyril Carroll, (Microbiology)
The research focus in the MORU can be broadly divided into three themes:
Theme 1: Marine Microbiology
Theme 2: Antimicrobial Resistance
Theme 3: Research Support of Indigenous Industry and Regulatory Bodies
Fleming, G. T. and J. W. Patching (2008) 'The Fermenter in Research and Development' In: McNeil, B.; Harvey, L.M (eds). Practical Fermentation Technology. UK: John Wiley and Sons LTD. PP. 347- 376
Patching, J. W. & Fleming, G. T. A. (2003) 'Industrial biofilms: formation, problems and control' In: Lens, P.; Moran, A.P.; Mahony, T.; Stoodley, P.; O'Flaherty, V (eds). Biofilms in Medicine, Industry and Environmental Biotechnology:characteristics, analysis and control. UK: IWA Publishing, London;UK. PP. 568-590
Peer-Reviewed Scientific Papers
Staunton, J., Williams, C.D., Mc Donnell, R.J., Fleming, G.T., Henry, T. & Gormally, M.J. (2014) 'Challenges in assessing ecological impacts of construction and demolition waste on wetlands: A case study'. Applied Ecology And Environmental Research, 12. (In Press)
McCoy, G. R., McNamee, S., Campbell, K., Elliott,C. T., Fleming, G.T.A. & Raine R. (2014) 'Monitoring a toxic bloom of Alexandrium minutum using novel microarray and multiplex surface plasmon resonance biosensor technology'. Harmful Algae, 32: 40-48.
McCoy, G.R., Kegel, J. U., Touzet, N., Fleming, G.T.A., Medlin, L. K. & Raine, R. (2014) 'An assessment of RNA content in Prymnesium parvum, Prymnesium polylepis, cf. Chattonella sp. and Karlodinium veneficum under varying environmental conditions for calibrating an RNA microarray for species detection'. Fems Microbiology Ecology, 48 (1): 140-159
McCoy, G.R., Touzet, N., Fleming, G.T.A. & Raine, R. (2013) 'An evaluation of the applicability of microarrays for monitoring toxic algae in Irish coastal waters'. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20: 6751-6761.
Touzet, N; McCarthy, D. and Fleming, G.T. (2013) 'Molecular fingerprinting of lacustrian cyanobacterial communities: regional patterns in summer diversity'. Fems Microbiology Ecology, 86 (3): 444-457
McCarthy, D. M., Pearce, D. A., Patching, J.W. & Fleming, G.T.A. (2013) 'Contrasting Responses to Nutrient Enrichment of Prokaryotic Communities Collected from Deep Sea Sites in the Southern Ocean'. Biology, 2 (3): 1165-1188.
Coggins, M., Hogan, V., Fleming, G., Tynan, T., Kelly, M., Roberts, N. & Thorne, P.S. (2012) 'Workplace exposure to bioaerosols in podiatry clinics'. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 56 (6):746-753.
Egan, S.T., McCarthy, D.M., Patching, J.W. & Fleming, G.T.A. (2012) 'An investigation of the physiology and potential role of components of the deep ocean bacterial community (of the NE Atlantic) by enrichments carried out under minimal environmental change'. Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers, 61: 11-20.
Mc Cay, P.H., Ocampo-Sosa, A.A. & Fleming, G.T.A. (2010) 'Effect of subinhibitory concentrations of benzalkonlum chloride on the competitiveness of Pseudomonas aeruginosa grown in continuous culture'. Microbiology, 156: 30-38.
Ryan, P., Forbes, C., McHugh, S., O'Reilly, C., Fleming, G.T.A. & Colleran, E. (2010) 'Enrichment of acetogenic bacteria in high rate anaerobic reactors under mesophilic and thermophilic conditions'. Water Research, 44: 4261-4269.
McDonnell, P.E., Coggins, M., Hogan, V. & Fleming, G. (2008) 'Exposure Assessment of Airborne Contaminants in the Indoor Environment of Irish Swine Farms'. Annals Of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine, 15: 323-326.
Smith, P., Fleming, G.T.A. & Carroll, C. (2008) 'Reducing inter-operator variation in disc diffusion assays by the inclusion of internal controls in a standard susceptibility test protocol'. Aquaculture, 285: 273-276.
Smith, P., Ruane, N.M., Douglas, I., Carroll, C., Kronvall, G. & Fleming, G.T.A. (2007) 'Impact of inter-lab variation on the estimation of epidemiological cut-off values for disc diffusion susceptibility test data for Aeromonas salmonicida'. Aquaculture, 272: 168-179.
Ruane, N.M., Douglas, I., Geary, M., Carroll, C., Fleming, G.T.A. & Smith, P (2007) 'Application of normalised resistance interpretation to disc diffusion data on the susceptibility of Aeromonas salmonicida to three quinolone agents'. Aquaculture, 272: 156-167.
Duignan, O., Fleming, G. T. A. and Carroll, C. V. (2007) 'A Study of the Adaptations Campylobacter jejuni to Antibiotic Selection Pressures in Chemostat Culture'. Zoonoses And Public Health, 54 (1): 39-39.
Douglas, I., Ruane, N.M., Geary, M., Carroll, C., Fleming, G.T.A. ,McMurray, J. & Smith, P (2007) 'The advantages of the use of discs containing single agents in disc diffusion testing of the susceptibility of Aeromonas salmonicida to potentiated sulphonamides'. Aquaculture, 272: 118-125.
Douglas, I., Smith, P. & Fleming, G. T. A. (2006) 'The effect of NaCl on measures of the antimicrobial agent susceptibility of Aeromonas salmonicida in standard disc diffusion assays'. Bull Eur Assoc Fish Pathol., 26: 232-235.
Curtin, J., Cormican, M., Fleming, G., Keelehan, J. & Colleran, E. (2003) 'Linezolid compared with eperezolid, vancomycin, and gentamicin in an in vitro model of antimicrobial lock therapy for Staphylococcus epidermidis central venous catheter-related biofilm infections'. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 47: 3145-3148.
Fleming, G.T., McCarthy, D.M., Colombet, N. & Patching, J.W. (2002) 'The effect of levofloxacin concentration on the development and maintenance of antibiotic-resistant clones of Escherichia coli in chemostat culture'. Journal Of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology, 29: 155-162.
Fleming, G.T. & Patching J.W. (1994) 'Plasmid instability in an industrial strain of Bacillus subtilis grown in continuous culture'. Journal of Industrial Microbiology, 13: 106-111.
Fleming, G. , Dawson, M.T. Patching, J.W. (1988) 'The isolation of strains of Bacillus subtilis showing improved plasmid stability characteristics by means of selective chemostat culture'. Journal of General Microbiology, 134: 2095-2101.
Mc Donnell, P., Coggins, M., Hogan, V., Fleming, G. (2007) ’ Exposure Assessment to airborne contaminants in the indoor environment of Irish Swine Farms’. Health and Safety Authority Research Series. HSA, Dublin.