Department of Microbiology and Virology

Department of Microbiology and Virology at the Commenius University in Bratislava is the only institution in Slovakia, which provides an education in master (MSc) and PhD. studies in two accredited programs - Microbiology and Virology. The Department is involved in many research projects as a leader institution or as a participant, while it cooperates with other reputable Slovak and foreign scientific institutions.

Section of microbiology is divided into 3 research groups according to the objects of interest. The “Laboratory of Molecular and Cell Biology” is represented by the research headed by prof. Yvetta Gbelská, PhD. and assoc. prof. Margita Obernauerová, PhD. Their work is focused on the study of transport systems and their regulation in the yeast cells as the model organism. They analyse the molecular mechanisms of toxic compounds passing through the cell membrane, the role of anionic phospholipids like cardiolipin in cell metabolism and its role in the yeast cell wall biogenesis.

The laboratory of “Medical Microbiology”, works under the direction of assoc. prof. Helena Bujdakova, PhD. This laboratory is focused on different aspects of biofilms formed by clinically important bacteria and yeasts, mainly, on the role of different genes involved in biofilm formation as well as the mechanisms of biofilm resistance to antimicrobials. The working group is searching for options how to prevent and eradicate biofilms using conventional antimicrobial substances, but also employing alternative method such as photodynamic inactivation of microorganisms.

The focus of the “Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology” partially helps to understand antimicrobial properties of silicate nanoparticles, as well as the adherence factors of cells, important also from clinical research. Completely different are studies of microbial diversity and the role of microorganisms isolated from extreme environments and their unusual mechanisms helping them to adapt to these biotopes.

Section of virology is also divided into 3 research groups according to the objects of interest.

The “Laboratory of General and Molecular Virology” is represented by the research supervised by prof. Jela Mistrikova, DrSc., and RNDr. Anna Kostrábová, PhD. The scientific work is focused on the study of murine gammaherpesvirus (MHV-68), which provides an animal model for the study of human gammaherpesviruses. Research is focused mainly on the pathogenesis, immunology, persistence and oncogenic potential of MHV in infected animals. The aim of molecular study is to confirm the sequence variability among murine herpesvirus isolates and the role of M4 gene in the oncogenesis. Work is also focused on the study of antiviral, immunomodulation and antiproliferation effects of newly synthesised compounds on the murine models involving dual infection with gammaherpes and influenza viruses.

The group under supervision of assoc. prof. František Golais, PhD. is focused on herpes virus-cell interactions. Productive, persistent and quiescent infection with HSV-1, HSV-2 and MHV-68 in cell cultures is studied, with the aim to find cultivating conditions resulting in transformation of cells. MHV-68 iradiated by UV light or photoinactivated in the presence of methylene blue was shown to be able to transform human and rodent cells. Quiescent, non-productive infection of mouse NIH3T3 cells with HSV-2 resulted in transformation when the cells were cultivated in the presence of antibody and interferon. As demonstrated, all transformed cells were shown to release products resembling growth factors with transforming and transformation repressing activity. These novel factor are at present intensively studied.

The laboratory of “Virus ecology” is operating under leadership of assoc. prof. Peter Kabát, PhD. This group is studying the ecology and geographic distribution of the Murid herpesvirus in Ixodes ricinus, Dermacentor reticulatus and Haemaphysalis concinna ticks living in Slovakia. The research is focused on identification and study of the host-pathogen relationship.

The educational programmes of all laboratories include the following methodological approaches: microscopy, cytology, histology, histopathology, histochemistry, serological methods, recombinant DNA techniques, etc.

The Department of Microbiology and Virology guarantees high quality in education with the opportunity to realize the experimental part of diploma thesis in well equipped laboratories. The study also offers specialized seminars of world-renowned scientists and discussions on current issues in microbiology, virology and molecular biology. The Department organizes excursions for students to the medical and molecular laboratories, as well as to the industrial and food companies. Success in job application is high, including science, clinical diagnostic laboratories, veterinary diagnostic laboratories, national and foreign scientific institutions, specialized industrial laboratories, as well as the laboratories for monitoring water and food.