Prof Gavin H Thomas
Chair in Microbiology

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2016 -  Reader Department of Biology, University of York
2010 - 2016 Senior Lecturer Department of Biology, University of York
2002 - 2010 Lecturer Department of Biology, University of York
2000 - 2002 Postdoctoral Research Fellow Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield
1998 - 2000 Postdoctoral Research Fellow  Molecular Microbiology department at the John Innes Centre, Norwich
1995 - 1998 PhD in Biochemistry Birmingham University
1992 - 1995 BSc (Hons) Bristol University       



The Thomas group has two main interests that are linked by the bacterium Escherichia coli. We are interested in the mechanisms used by different bacteria, mainly human pathogens, to utilise the important host-derived molecule sialic acid. This includes how this sugar acid is transported across the inner membrane of bacteria and here we study the sialic acid-specific tripartite ATP-independent periplasmic (TRAP) transporter from Haemophilus influenzae as our main system. We also used constraint-based modelling to understand the obligate symbiosis between a number of bacteria and their insect hosts, focussing mainly on the interaction between the E. coli relative Buchnera aphidicola and its aphid host.


We have recently provided the first mechanistic detail on the function of a TRAP transporter, using the SiaPQM sialic acid transporter from H. influenzae and have discovered a sialic acid mutarotase that is encoded by some bacterial pathogens to help that acquire sialic acid effectively from their host. Also, we have helped in the annotation and interpretation of the aphid genome sequence in relation to its symbiotic interaction with Buchnera. sp.


  • Systems level analysis of animal metabolism by multicompartmental graph- and constraints-based modelling (Funding body: BBSRC/ANR Systems Biology)
  • Characterisation of the function and mechanism of a binding- protein dependent secondary transporter (Funding body: BBSRC)

Research group(s)

Post doc Dr Sandy Macdonald Systems level analysis of animal metabolism by multicompartmental graph- and constraints-based modelling
Student Abbas Maqbool Development of peptide specific ESRs as diagnostic tools
Student  Daniel Bawdon Identification of bacterial transporters for hydroxyalkylcysteines: a novel target for reducing axillary malodour (BBSRC Industrial CASE with Unilever)

Dr Gavin H Thomas

Contact details

Prof. Gavin H Thomas
Professor in Microbiology
Department of Biology (Area 10)
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 328678