Ph.D., University of Arizona, Tuscon
The CDC estimates that there are 65 million foodborne illnesses in the United States every year. Bacterial foodborne pathogens are a diverse group, and have evolved to survive and flourish in a wide range of environments. My research involves a variety of different aspects including epidemiology, epigenetics, transcriptomics, proteomics, comparative genomics, host-microbe interactions, molecular biology, and genetics, with the ultimate goal of developing methods to prevent foodborne illness.
Fresh produce has recently been identified as the number one source of foodborne illness in the United States, and this is particularly troublesome because it is typically consumed raw. I am currently researching how prevalent various foodborne pathogens are on fresh produce from the grocery stores, farmer’s markets, the processors equipment, and the produce fields. In addition, I am studying potential sources of contamination in the produce fields, and the survivability and evolution of the foodborne pathogens in various agricultural environments. My research also involves examining the interactions of the pathogens with the normal microbial communities in these various agricultural environments, and the effect their presence has on these communities.
My current research also investigating different strains of these foodborne pathogens isolated from various environments, and using comparative genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics to understand the evolution and identify potential virulence factors of the pathogens. Identified potential virulence factors are then characterized in the laboratory and investigated for there role in the host-microbe interactions to determine the role in pathogenesis.
The advent of new technologies in next generation sequencing has allowed for us to study fields like epigenetics on a whole new level. Utilizing Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequencing technology, I am also researching the role that DNA methylation plays in gene expression in bacteria in general and ultimately in the pathogenesis of foodborne pathogens.
K.K. Cooper, H.T. Trinh, and J.G. Songer, "Immunization with recombinant alpha toxin partially protects broiler chicks against experimental challenge with Clostridium perfringens" Vet Microbiol. 2009 Jan 1; 133(1-2) 92-7.
K.K. Cooper and J.G. Songer, "Necrotic enteritis in poultry: A paradigm of enteric infection by Clostridium perfringens type A" Anaerobe. 2009 Feb-Apr; 15(1-2):55-60.
K.K. Cooper and J.G. Songer, "Virulence of Clostridium perfringens in an experimental model of poultry necrotic enteritis", Vet Microbiol. 2010 May 19; 142(3-4): 323-8.
K.K. Cooper, J.R. Theoret, B.A. Stewart, H.T. Trinh, R.D. Glock and J.G. Songer, "Virulence for chickens of Clostridium perfringens isolated from poultry and other sources”, Anaerobe. 2010 Jun; 16(3):289-92.
K.K. Cooper, M.A. Cooper, A. Zuccolo, B. Law and L.A. Joens, “The complete genome sequence of Campylobacter jejuni strain S3”, Journal of Bacteriol. 2011 Mar; 193(6):1491-2.
J.R. Theoret, K.K. Cooper, R.D. Glock and L.A. Joens, "A Campylobacter jejuni Dps homologue has a role in intracellular survival and in the development of campylobacteriosis in neonate piglets", Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2011 Dec; 8(12):1263-8.
C.F. Coursodon, R.D. Glock, K.L. Moore, K.K. Cooper and J.G. Songer, “TpeL-producing strains of Clostridium perfringens type A are highly virulent for broiler chicks”, Anaerobe. 2012 Feb; 18(1):117-21.
J.R. Theoret, K.K. Cooper, B. Zekarias, K. Roland, B.F. Law, R. Curtiss III and L.A. Joens, "The Campylobacter jejuni Dps homologue is important for in vitro biofilm formation and cecal colonization of poultry, and may serve as a protective antigen for vaccination”, Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2012 Sep; 19(9):1426-31.
K.K. Cooper, M.A. Cooper, A. Zuccolo, and L.A. Joens, “Re-sequencing of virulent strain of Campylobacter jejuni NCTC11168 reveals potential virulence factors”, Res Microbiol. 2013 Jan; 164(1):6-11.
K.K. Cooper, J.G. Songer and F. Uzal, “Diagnosing clostridial enteric disease in poultry”, J Vet Diagn Invest. 2013 May; 25(3):314-27.
K.K. Cooper, D.M. Bueschel and J.G. Songer, “Presence of Clostridium perfringens in retail chicken livers”, Anaerobe. 2013 Jun; 21:67-8.