Dr. Michael Fruci

Image Michael Fruci
Research Scientist

Modern medicine, veterinary, and agricultural practices are extensively dependent on the availability of antibiotics to prevent and treat bacterial infections in humans, animals, and crops. However, the overuse and misuse of these drugs for the last 80 years has led to the evolution and spread of disease-causing antibiotic resistant bacteria that threaten both human and animal health. Research in the Fruci lab is focused on a) identifying and characterizing novel antibiotic alternatives that promote animal health, and b) identifying agricultural practices other than antibiotic use that drive the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Taken together, research efforts will drive the development of novel antimicrobial alternatives and support future stewardship efforts.

Current research and/or projects

1. Facing the growing restrictions of antibiotic use in poultry production and the rise in consumer demand for products that are “Raised Without Antibiotics”, there is a need to develop reliable, innovative and environmentally sustainable production practices that recapitulate several positive effects of antimicrobials including promoting animal growth, preventing bacterial infections, and reducing manure-derived volatile compound emissions (e.g. ammonia). One promising alternative is to use commercial insect meal, which has been prepared from larvae reared on pre-consumer waste (e.g. spoiled fruits and vegetables, stale grains), as a functional feed for poultry; insect meal is a rich source of nutrients (e.g. protein, fatty acids, minerals)  and antimicrobial and immunomodulatory agents (e.g. chitin and fatty acids). While the nutritional value of insect meal and its influence on growth performance and feed efficiency are well-documented in poultry, the potential prebiotic, antimicrobial, and immunomodulatory effects of such meal on poultry health need to be evaluated. The major goal of this project is to explore impacts of feeding broiler chickens diets containing insect meal when compared to conventional feed (e.g. soybean) in broiler chickens on growth performance, gut health, infectious disease resistance and the environment. Results from this study will be foundational for Canadian poultry producers to adopt the use of the insect meal-feeding practice in maintaining optimal bird health, while simultaneously supporting a circular economy in Canadian poultry production.

2.  The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in agriculture has led to the evolution and spread of disease-causing antibiotic resistant bacteria that threaten both human and animal health. Unfortunately, reducing antibiotic use in agriculture will likely not be sufficient for reducing the development and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This is because antibiotic resistant bacteria can also be selected for and maintained by agents other than antibiotics. The use of metals, pesticides, and detergents, all of which are used extensively in agriculture, can and do select for drug resistant pathogens. This phenomenon is referred to as co-selection. We are interested in identifying agriculture practices that promote the evolution, accumulation, and dissemination of known and novel antibiotic resistant bacteria. In doing so, we can then inform better management practices to reduce the accumulation and transmission of antibiotic resistant bacteria in agriculture so that our current arsenal of antibiotics used to treat humans and animal bacterial infections remain effective.

Education and awards

Doctor of Philosophy in Microbiology and Immunology Sept. 2011-June 2017 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario PhD Thesis: Regulation of the MexAB-OprM multidrug efflux system of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

BSc. (Hons.) Life Sciences, with Distinction Sept. 2007- May 2011 Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario Undergraduate Thesis: Pentachlorophenol induction of a clinically relevant antimicrobial efflux system in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Key publications

Poole, K., Hay, T., Gilmour,C., and Fruci,M. (2019) The aminoglycoside resistance promoting AmgRS envelope stress-responsive two-component system in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is zinc-activated and protects cells from zinc-promoted membrane damage. Microbiology.165: 563-571.

Fruci, M., and Poole, K (2018) Aminoglycoside-inducible expression of the mexAB-oprM multidrug efflux operon in Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Involvement of the envelope stress-responsive AmgRS two-component system. PLoS ONE 13(10): e0205036. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0205036

Poole, K and Fruci. M. (2016) Antimicrobial efflux systems as components of bacterial stress responses. In Efflux-mediated drug resistance in bacteria: mechanisms, regulation and clinical implication, X.-Z. Li, C. Elkins and H. Zgurskaya (eds), Springer Publishing, New York, NY, USA. 

 Fruci, M and Poole, K. (2016). Bacterial stress responses as determinants of antibiotic resistance. In Stress and environmental control gene expression in bacteria. Frans J. de Bruijn (ed), Wiley-Blackwell Publishers. 

Purssell A, Fruci, M, Mikalauskas A, Gilmour C, Poole K. (2015). EsrC, an envelope stressregulated repressor of the mexCD-oprJ multidrug efflux operon in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Environ. Microbiol. 17:186-98.

Starr LM, Fruci M, Poole K (2012). Pentachlorophenol Induction of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa mexAB-oprM Efflux Operon: Involvement of Repressors NalC and MexR and the Antirepressor ArmR. PLoS ONE 7(2):e32684.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032684.


Adjunct Professor- University of Western Ontario, Department of Microbiology and Immunology 

Member- American Society for Microbiology 

Member-American Society of Microbiologists