Professor of Microbial Ecology
BS. 1987, Mendel University, Brno, CZ
Ph.D. 1998, University of Alberta, Edmonton, CA
Postdoctoral: 1999-2002, North Carolina State University, Raleigh
Research program in our laboratory is oriented in three main directions:
a) ecology of zoonotic and food-borne pathogens in agricultural and urban environments with the special emphasis on antibiotic resistant strains
b) gastro-intestinal microbial ecology of insects with focus on the gut-microbial homeostasis, role of gut bacterial communities in development of innate epithelial immunity and vector capacity for human and animal parasites and pathogens
c) development of novel microbially-based strategies for insect pest management
We are working primarily with enterococci and Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC). The main interests include the origins, reservoirs, and horizontal transfer of virulence and antibiotic resistance genes among bacteria. We ask questions on how and why some innocuous environmental bacterial strains acquire specific traits that make them clinically important.
The gastro-intestinal tract of insects is an ideal habitat for large and diverse microbial communities. We are interested in biting midges (Culicoides sonorensis) - microbial interactions from perspectives of larval development, adult fitness, innate immunity, and vector competence for bluetongue virus (BTV) and epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV). We also collaborate with Dr. David Sacks (NIAID, NIH) on the assessment of the role of the gut bacterial community of sand flies in vector competence for Leishmania parasites.
Development and survival of some insects, such as larvae of muscoid flies, strictly depends on an active microbial community in the natural habitat (e.g. animal and human feces and other decomposing organic substrates). We are interested in a better understanding of this insect - bacterial association with the overall goal to develop novel insect pest management strategies.
Oravcova V., A. Ghosh, L. Zurek, J. Bardon, S. Guenther, A. Cizek, and I. Literak (2013). Vancomycin-resistant enterococci in rooks (Corvus frugilegus) wintering throughout Europe. Environmental Microbiology 15:548-556.
Peterkova-Koci K., M. Robles-Murguia, M. Ramalho-Ortigao, L. Zurek* (2012). Significance of bacteria in oviposition and larval development of the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis. Parasites & Vectors 5:145.
Frolkova P., A. Ghosh, P. Svec, L. Zurek, I. Literak (2012). Use of the manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase gene sodA for rapid identification of recently described enterococcal species. Folia Microbiologica 57: 439-442.
Hubert J., Jopecky J., Perotti A., Braig H.R., Sagova-Mareckova M., Macovei L., and L. Zurek (2012). Detection and identification of species-specific bacteria associated with synanthropic mites. Microbial Ecology 63: 919-928.
Unc A., L. Zurek, G. Peterson, S. Narayanan, S.V. Springthorpe, and S.A. Sattar (2012). Microarray assessment of virulence, antibiotic, and heavy metal resistance in an agricultural watershed creek. Journal of Environmental Quality 41: 1-10.
Doud C.W., D.B. Taylor and L. Zurek* (2012). Dewatered sewage biosolids provide a productive larval habitat for stable flies and house flies (Diptera: Muscidae). Journal of Medical Entomology 49:286-292.
Doud C.W. and L. Zurek* (2012). Enterococcus faecalis OG1RF:pMV158 survives and proliferates in the house fly digestive tract. Journal of Medical Entomology 49:150-155.
Ghosh A., K. KuKanich, C.B. Brown and L. Zurek* (2012). Resident cats in small animal veterinary hospitals carry multi-drug resistant enterococci and are likley involved in cross-contamination of the hospital environment. Frontiers in Microbiology 3(62):1-14.
KuKanich K.S., A. Ghosh, J.V. Skarbek, K. Lothamer, and L. Zurek (2012). Surveillance of bacterial contamination in small animal veterinary hospitals with focus on drug resistance and virulence traits of enterococci. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 240:437-445.
Ghosh A., S.E. Dowd, and L. Zurek* (2011). Dogs leaving the ICU carry a very large multi-drug resistant enterococcal population with capacity for biofilm formation and horizontal gene transfer. PLoS ONE 6(7): e22451.
Khajuria C., L.L. Buschman, M.S. Chen, L. Zurek, and K.Y. Zhu (2011). Characterization of six antibacterial response genes from the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) larval gut and their expression in response to bacterial challenge. Journal of Insect Physiology 57:345-355.
Ahmad A., A. Ghosh, C. Schal, and L. Zurek* (2011). Insects in confined swine operations carry a large antibiotic resistant and potentially virulent enterococcal community. BMC Microbiology 11:23.
Amachawadi R.A., Shelton N.W., Jacob M.E., Shi X., Narayanan S.K., Zurek L., Dritz S.S., Nelssen J.L., Tokach M.D. and Nagaraja T.G. (2010). Occurence of tcrB, a transferable copper resistance gene, in fecal enterococci of swine. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease 7:1089-1097.
Channaiah LH, B. Subramanyam, and L. Zurek (2010). Stored product insects are carriers of antibiotic resistant and potentially virulent enterococci. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 74:464-471.
Channaiah, L.H., B. Subramanyam, and L. Zurek (2010). Survival of Enterococcus faecalis OG1RF:pCF10 in poultry and cattle feed: Vector competence of the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. Journal of Food Protection 73:568-573.
Akhtar, M., H. Hirt, and L. Zurek*(2009). Horizontal transfer of the tetracycline resistance gene tetM mediated by pCF10 among Enterococcus faecalis in the house fly alimentary canal. Microbial Ecology 59 : 509-518.
Macovei, L., A. Ghosh, V. Thomas, L. Hancock, S. Mahmood, and L. Zurek (2009). Enterococcus faecalis with the gelatinase phenotype regulated by the fsr-operon and with biofilmforming capacity are common in the agricultural environment. Environmental Microbiology 11:1540-1547.
Nagulalally, S.R., A. Ahmad, A. Henry, G.L. Marchin, L. Zurek, and A. Bhandari (2009). Occurrence of ciprofloxacin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and vancomycin resistant bacteria in a municipal wastewater treatment plant. Water Environment Research 80: 82-90.