PA02: The effect of dietary plant extracts against growth and toxin production of Clostridium difficile in a simulated intestinal environment.

Supervisory Team

Dr Liz O'Gara & Dr Martin Khechara, School of Biomedical Science and Physiological Science & Professor David Hill, School of Biology, Chemistry and Forensic Science

Project Description

C.difficile is the causative agent of a spectrum of diarrheal diseases, ranging from mild diarrhea to fulminant pseudomembranous colitis. It is a common nosocomial infection, with significant morbidity and mortality. Most cases of C. difficile infection (CDI) develop due to exposure to antimicrobial agents (particularly fluoroquinolones, cephalosporin and clindamycin) or gastrointestinal surgery.  However, recently increasing cases of community acquired infection with no predisposing factors have been reported (Pituch 2009). Considering this and the recent emergence of new hyper virulent, antimicrobial resistance strains of C.difficile it is important that new treatment therapies other than conventional antibiotics are found. 

It is believed that selected dietary plant extracts will have antimicrobial activity against Clostridium difficile and inhibitory effects against particular virulence factors including attachment, motility and toxin production. This project aims to investigate the potential use of a selected plant preparation, as functional foods for control of Clostridium difficile infection.

The project will build on previous work published by the supervisory team studying the effects of natural plant antimicrobials against gastrointestinal bacteria using a variety of antimicrobial testing techniques and in vitro gastric and intestinal modeling. The research project will involve collaboration consultants from regional hospitals. 

The successful candidate will be trained in a range of advanced techniques used in intestinal modelling and develop skills in microbiology. Laboratory work will be undertaken within the University of Wolverhampton’s new Science Centre, the Rosalind Franklin building, which houses a broad range of state-of-the-art research facilities suitable for undertaking this multidisciplinary project.


  • O'GARA, E. A., MASLIN, D. J., NEVILL, A. M. & HILL, D. J. (2008) The effect of simulated gastric environments on the anti-Helicobacter activity of garlic oil. J Appl Microbiol, 104, 1324-31.
  • ROSS, Z. M., O'GARA, E. A., HILL, D. J., SLEIGHTHOLME, H. V. & MASLIN, D. J. (2001) Antimicrobial properties of garlic oil against human enteric bacteria: evaluation of methodologies and comparisons with garlic oil sulfides and garlic powder. Appl Environ Microbiol, 67, 475-80.
  • O'GARA, E. A., HILL, D. J. & MASLIN, D. J. (2000) Activities of garlic oil, garlic powder, and their diallyl constituents against Helicobacter pylori. Appl Environ Microbiol, 66, 2269-73.


We welcome applications at any time from self-funded students that are well qualified and highly motivated. Applicants should have a recognized Honours or Masters degree with a 2.1 or equivalent in microbiology or biomedical science, (or a related field). 

Applicants whose entry award was not delivered in English, or non-native speaker of English shall be required to demonstrate proficiency in English at least to the level of an IELTS score of 7.0 or its equivalent.

How to apply

Complete the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 679k) and email to 

See Guidance for the Completion of the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 23k) for details.

For more information

For an informal discussion please contact Dr Liz O’Gara (L.O’