Bart Devreese group

Research topics

Antimicrobial resistance and virulence of opportunistic pathogens

We use proteomics to analyze the mechanisms of resistance and persistence of bacteria against antimicrobial treatment. We are particularly interested in the involvement of membrane vesicles in mediating and spreading antibiotic resistance. Further, we are involved in structural biology research of toxin/antitoxin complexes that control persistence.

Through secretome analysis, we also determine the portfolio of virulence factors that pathogens release to infect host cells. We focus on extracellular enzymes like proteases and phospholipases that degrade host immune response proteins. Species under investigation are pathogens involved in the lung infection of patients with cystic fibrosis and the plant pathogen Streptomyces scabies.

Enzymes for Green Chemistry

Enzymes provide an excellent alternative to classical catalysis in chemical reactions. The ecological footprint of an enzyme based reaction is typically much lower due to reduced consumption of acid or base, lower reaction temperature and less side products. We provide support to industry by aiding in selection and engineering of enzymes for initial proof-of-concept studies towards feasibility testing to introduce enzymes in their reaction schemes. We focus on hydrolytic and redox active enzymes.

Proteomics platform and quantitative metabolite analysis

We are integral part of the Ghent University Expertise center for proteomics (ProteoGent) and offer services for protein analysis, quantitative proteomics and identification of post-translational modifications. Requests for support can be submitted to

In addition, we use mass spectrometry for the identification and quantitation of secondary metabolites produced by bacteria and fungi.

Key publications

1. Devos S, Van Putte W, Vitse J, Van Driessche G, Stremersch S, Van Den Broek W, Raemdonck K, Braeckmans K, Stahlberg H, Kudryashev M, Savvides SN, Devreese B. Membrane vesicle secretion and prophage induction in multidrug-resistant Stenotrophomonas maltophilia in response to ciprofloxacin stress. Environ Microbiol. (2017) 19, 3930-3937.

2. Depluverez, S., Devos, S., Devreese, B. The Role of Bacterial Secretion Systems in the Virulence of Gram-Negative Airway Pathogens Associated with Cystic Fibrosis. Frontiers Microbiol. (2016) 7, 1336.

3. Ciesielska K, Roelants SL, Van Bogaert IN, De Waele S, Vandenberghe I, Groeneboer S, Soetaert W, Devreese B. Characterization of a novel enzyme-Starmerella bombicola lactone esterase (SBLE)-responsible for sophorolipid lactonization. Appl. Microb. Biotechnol. (2016) 100, 9529-9541.

4. Wen Y, Behiels E, Devreese B. Toxin-Antitoxin systems: their role in persistence, biofilm formation and pathogenicity. Pathog Dis (2014) 70, 240-249. 

5. Wen Y, Behiels E, Felix J, Elegheert J, Vergauwen B, Devreese B, Savvides SN. The bacterial antitoxin HipB establishes a ternary complex with operator DNA and phosphorylated toxin HipA to regulate bacterial persistence. Nucleic Acids Res. (2014) 42, 10134-10147.