Welcome to the Pletzer Lab We combat infectious diseases and develop strategies to reduce antimicrobial resistance Read More Join the lab to learn more about Infectious Diseases and novel treatment strategies Read More Contact Us

Explore our Research

Antimicrobial Resistance

We explore alternative ways to treat multidrug resistant pathogens.

Infectious Diseases

We investigate complex infections to understand disease causing mechanisms.

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

We use high-throughput sequencing to unravel novel host-pathogen interactions.

Understand how microbes cause disease Our research focuses to understand how microorganisms cause disease and what mechanisms they employ to overcome environmental stress. Of particular interest are polymicrobial infections (two or more microbes occupying the same niche) and how multiple microbes can change the course of infection and treatment. To accomplish this, we investigate host-pathogen interactions in culture conditions and in the context of complex skin infections such as abscesses and wounds.

Our research examines a variety of important nosocomial organisms including all of the so-called ESKAPE pathogens (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter species ) as well as Escherichia coli, Cutibacterium acnes  and Streptococcus pyogenes.
Fight antimicrobial resistance Antibiotics are arguably the most important and successful medicines. However, the frequent growth of bacteria as biofilms, which are bacterial communities that grow in a protective matrix, is of great concern. Biofilm-associated infections (for example found in the cystic fibrosis lung or in chronic infections) are particularly difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics since bacteria growing within biofilms can be up to 1000-fold more resistant to antibiotics. This type of resistance is termed adaptive resistance and has been proposed to play a major role in reducing the therapeutic effectiveness of antimicrobial compounds.

Currently, there is no specific treatment for such infections. The biofilm lifestyle is also associated with chronic infections predominantly caused by multiple bacterial species occupying the same infection site. We are therefore interested in how polymicrobial biofilms form during disease and what makes them so recalcitrant towards antibiotic treatment.
Develop novel antimicrobial strategies We have developed a murine skin infection model that forms the basis for the development and investigation of novel therapeutics to address the global problem of antimicrobial resistance to improve health and treatment. We are interested in compounds that exhibit broad-spectrum activity towards bacterial biofilms and/or work by neutralizing bacterial infection strategies rather than just killing them.

The lab also works on strategies to overcome bacterial resistance mechanisms by developing antibiotic-conjugates that increase the uptake efficiency of already approved drugs.

WHO-priority pathogens to discover new mechanisms to overcome multidrug resistance

Our focus is on the so-called ESKAPE pathogens (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species) as they are the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections worldwide.

Our lab covers a broad range of expertise
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Chronic infections
  • High density infections
  • Skin & lung disease

About the Pletzer Laboratory

We are located in Dunedin in the South Island of beautiful New Zealand. The lab was established in 2019 at the University of Otago.

Postgraduate students
Years at Otago

Find out more ...

Dr Daniel Pletzer

Principal Investigator

Pletzer Lab

Microbiology & Immunology

Where to find us?

University of Otago

Explore our world-class research

From Microbiology and Immunology to Virology and Parasitology

Follow us on Twitter!

The School of Biomedical Sciences’ 2022 Postgraduate Symposium provided an opportunity for postgraduate students to present their research and celebrate their progress. 🎉 Head here for a recap of the event: https://www.otago.ac.nz/otagobulletin/news/otago0231067.html

📣Fully funded #PhDposition open in my group @UniofAdelaide for domestic & international students! If you love plant biochemistry & want to work on new ways to find #herbicides, please DM or click on link👇 Please RT 🙏 #PhD #phdchat #AcademicTwitter


Please join us for the next ASM Hour in 2022! Our June session will be chaired by Professor Melissa Brown (Flinders University) on the theme of Biofilm.
Date: June 7th 2022 12pm (AEST)
TryBooking link: https://www.trybooking.com/BWCJZ

#Biofilm has an economic impact of >$5000bn a year, according to a market analysis commissioned by @ukbiofilms and explored in this article, which then outlines the key scientific challenges for better biofilm research: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41522-022-00306-y

Which are the solutions to antibiotic failure and the emerging treatment options and diagnostic tools that may help alleviate this burden?

Read this new article published by Robert Hancock and @evanfhaney @thehancocklab in Frontiers in Drug Discovery @FrontDrugDDS ⬇

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Contact us

Phone: +64 3 479 7734 (Microbiology & Immunology)

Drop us an email


Where to find us

720 Cumberland Street, 9054 Dunedin, New Zealand