Professor Marco Oggioni

Picture Marco

Professor of Microbial Genetics

Department of Genetics, University of Leicester,
Adrian Building, Room 115, University Road,
Leicester, LE1 7RH

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2261



Personal details

Since 2013 I joined the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology of the University of Leicester as a Chair in Microbial Genetics and, since 2015, I have in addition an Honorary Microbiology Consultant Contract with the University of Leicester Hospitals NHS Trust. I am co-chair of the Leicester Microbial Sciences and Infectious Disease LeMID Network.

I went to Medical School at the University of Siena (Italy) and later at the University of Verona (Italy) where I obtained my medical degree (1990). During these years I spent a period as guest investigator at the Rockefeller University, New York (USA). Back at the University of Siena, I obtained a Specialisation degree in Medical Microbiology and Virology (1994). My research work started in Siena with Professor Gianni Pozzi on biotechnological projects aimed at using non-pathogenic streptococci as life vaccine vectors. I was then employed at the University Hospital of Siena 1993 to 2013 where I also had a teaching contract with the University of Siena (Italy).


MRO has two main areas of research interest which are the discovery of specific details in the interaction of pathogenic bacteria with the host that could lead to new treatment options and the analysis of antimicrobial resistance determinants. MRO addresses the study of bacterial virulence mechanisms, by use of genomic tools, the exploration of microbial physiology, and the detailed analysis of events occurring in experimental infection models. Main scope of this work is the recognition of specific phases characterising microbial physiology during infection with the aim of identification of novel drug targets. In this context MRO has focused in the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae on carbon metabolism, discovered a novel phase variable methylation mechanism with an epigenetic impact on bacterial phenotypes and that invasive bacterial infection starts form a single bacterial cell.

Recently MRO has described that pneumococci are capable of replicating in a subset of splenic macrophages prior starting invasive disease in mice and that invasive disease can be prevented by blocking this intracellular replication (Ercoli et al., Nature Microbiology 2018). In order to explore the validity of these findings an ex vivo perfusion model for porcine spleens was developed and intracellular replication of pneumococci in the same subset of splenic macrophages could be confirmed (Chung et al., ALTEX 2019). Most recently MRO was awarded as Chief Investigator by the Health Research Authority a clinical trial to use human spleens in ex vivo perfusion models. This work is now providing the first functional analysis of the roles of specific macrophage subsets in the human spleen during the first phases of infection. This innovative work holds promise to rewrite some of the concepts of the pathogenesis of infection and the rational for antimicrobial drug treatment.

In association to his diagnostic background MRO has been over the years involved in the development and validation of molecular detection protocols and the monitoring and characterisation of antimicrobial resistance mechanisms in many bacterial genera with a recent focus on the genomic analysis of these events. Upon other work, he led for three years a European Consortium on biocide resistance which interacted at multiple levels with relevant stakeholders in national and international agencies. MRO has published scientific articles on antimicrobial resistance in multiple microorganisms including mycobacteria, staphylococci, streptococci, listeria, enterobacteria and fungi.


Selected publications

  • Chung, W., Wanford, J., Kumar, R., Isherwood, J., Haigh, R., Oggioni, M., Dennison, A. and Ercoli, G. 2019. An ex vivo porcine spleen perfusion as a model of bacterial sepsis. ALTEX. 2019;36(1):29-38. doi: 10.14573/altex.1805131. Epub 2018 Aug 3.
  • Zamudio R., MR Oggioni, IM Gould, K Hijazi. 2019. Time for biocide stewardship? 2019. Nature Microbiology. Published online 25 February 2019. doi 10.1038/s41564-019-0360-6.
  • Kwun MJ, MR Oggioni, M de Ste Croix, SD Bentley and NJ Croucher. 2018. Excision-reintegration at a pneumococcal phase-variable restriction-modification locus drives within- and between-strain epigenetic differentiation and inhibits gene acquisition. Nucleic Acids Research, 2018 Nov 30;46(21):11438-11453.
  • Ercoli G, VE Fernandes, WY Chung, JJ Wanford, S Thomson, CD Bayliss, K Straatman, PR Crocker, A Dennison, L Martinez-Pomares, PW Andrew, ER Moxon, MR Oggioni. 2018. Intracellular replication of Streptococcus pneumoniae inside splenic macrophages serves as a reservoir for septicaemia. Nature Microbiology, 3(5):600-610.
  • De Ste Croix M, I Vacca, M Jung Kwun, J Ralph, SD Bentley, R Haigh, NJ Croucher, MR Oggioni. 2017. Phase variable methylation and epigenetic control by Type I Restriction Modification systems. FEMS Microbiology Reviews. 41:S3-15.
  • Kaduskar RD, G Della Scala, ZJH. Al Jabri, S Arioli, L Musso, MR Oggioni, S Dallavalle, D Mora. 2017. Promysalin is a salicylate containing antimicrobial with a cell membrane-disrupting mechanism of action on Gram-positive bacteria. ScientIfic Reports. 7: 8861.
  • Trappetti C, LJ. McAllister, A Chen, H Wang, AW. Paton, MR. Oggioni, CA. McDevitt, JC. Paton. Autoinducer 2 signalling via the phosphotransferase FruA drives galactose utilization by Streptococcus pneumoniae resulting in hypervirulence. MBio. 2017 Jan 24;8(1). pii: e02269-16.
  • Lees JA, PHC Kremer, AS Manso, NJ Croucher, B Ferwerda, M Valls Serón, MR Oggioni, J Parkhill, MC Brouwer, A van der Ende, D van de Beek, SD Bentley. 2017. Large scale genomic analysis shows no evidence for pathogen adaptation between the blood and cerebrospinal fluid niches during bacterial meningitis. Microbial Genomics, 2017. 3:1.
  • Velikova N, S Fulle, AS Manso, M Mechkarska, P Finn, JM Conlon, MR Oggioni, JM Wells, A Marina. 2016. Putative histidine kinase inhibitors with antibacterial effect against multi-drug resistant clinical isolates identified by in vitro and in silico screens. Scientific Reports, 6:26085.
  • Manso AS, MH Chai, JM Atack, L Furi, M De Ste Croix, R Haigh, C Trappetti, AD Ogunniyi, LK Shewell, M Boitano, TA Clark, J Korlach, M Blades, E Mirkes, AN Gorban, JC Paton, MP Jennings, MR Oggioni. 2014. A random six-phase switch regulates pneumococcal virulence via global epigenetic changes. Nature Commun. 5:5055
  • Gerlini A, L Colomba, L Furi, T Braccini, AS Manso, A Pammolli, B Wang, A Vivi, M Tassini, N van Rooijen, G Pozzi, S Ricci, PW Andrew, U Koedel, ER Moxon and MR Oggioni. 2014. The role of host and microbial factors in the pathogenesis of pneumococcal bacteraemia arising from a single bacterial cell bottleneck. PLoS Pathogens 10(3): e1004026.

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Department of Genetics
University of Leicester

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University Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3374
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