Prof. Jennifer Mahony graduated with a BSc in Food Science and Technology from Cork Institute of Technology (now called Munster Technical University) in 2003. She pursued a PhD on the subject of prophage-encoded bacteriophage resistance mechanisms in the dairy bacterium Lactococcus lactis. After graduating with her PhD in 2008, she continued to research phage-host interactions in her post-doctoral research. These studies were primarily focused on the phage-host interactions of the lactic acid bacteria that are employed in dairy fermentations while they also encompassed those pertaining to food spoilage microorganisms such as Lactobacillus brevis and pathogenic organisms such as Shigella. She has performed research secondments in the University of Groningen and CNRS Marseille and been involved in multidisciplinary teams involving structural biologists, glycobiologists and biochemists to provide detailed mechanistic insights into these intricate relationships. Now a Professor in molecular food microbiology, Prof. Mahony leads a research team dedicated to understanding the mechanisms by which phages infect their hosts and how bacteria respond and evolve in order to adapt and survive.
My research is primarily focused on the biology and interactions of phages infecting lactic acid bacteria using a functional genomics approach. This research provides a fundamental basis to develop solutions to the phage problem in food fermentations while it may also be applied to the development of phage therapeutics. The multi-disciplinary approach to my research has led to the publication of research articles in high impact journals including PNAS, Nature, mBio, molecular microbiology, among others.
Theme: Microbes to Molecules
SDGs: SDG2: Zero hunger (food security and stability) and SDG3: Good health and well-being
Research key words: Fermented foods; phage-host interactions; phageome; lactic acid bacteria; functional genomics