Dr Natalie Garton

Lecturer in Microbiology

School/Department: Respiratory Sciences, Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 223 1415



I studied Chemistry at the University of Oxford developing an interest in Biological Chemistry before moving to Newcastle University for PhD study. My research focussed on the interaction of fluorescent lipid probes with mycobacterial lipid domains leading to the identification and characterisation of the natural history of intracellular lipid bodies. I followed this with postdoctoral research at the University of Sunderland characterising the cell wall lipoglycan of Rhodoccus equi and other actinomycetes. I joined the University of Leicester in 2001 to continue Mycobacterium tuberculosis research reporting the prevalence of intracellular lipid bodies and the unique transcriptome of this organism in human sputum. I have continued to develop my interest in mycobacterial lipid metabolism and the clinical significance of mycobacterial lipid bodies. I have also contributed to the development of face-mask sampling of exhaled M. tuberculosis lead by Mike Barer and the development of this for COVID-19. I became a Lecturer in Microbiology in 2020 having contributed to teaching for over 10 years. I have been involved in the management of the University C3 Facilities for over 12 years.


I investigate bacterial lipid metabolism, with particular emphasis on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the agent of tuberculosis, and my work may open up new opportunities for drug development and infection control.  My research focuses on how disease-causing species utilise the lipids of infected host cells, and how this impacts the bacterial metabolism and lipid content, particularly accumulation of lipid bodies.  I aim to understand differences in neutral lipid metabolism between different strains. During infection, the resulting bacterial lipid composition and related physical characteristics, may affect bacterial properties likely to have an impact on disease transmission and the treatment of infection.  My interest in characterising lipid bodies and associated metabolic pathways extends to the distantly related equine pathogen Rhodococcus equi and Gram negative, nosocomial pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii. Both these pathogens persist in the environment and the role of lipid bodies in supporting this is under investigation.
Understanding how mycobacteria enter into and adapt to the aerosol state and how this may impact infectivity is an additional interest.


Williams C.M., Pan D., Decker J., Wisniewska A., Fletcher E., Sze S., Assadi S., Haigh R., Abdulwhhab M., Bird P., Holmes C.W., Al-Taie A., Saleem B., Pan J., Garton N.J., Pareek M., Barer M.R. (2021) Exhaled SARS-CoV2 quantified by face-mask sampling in hospitalised patients with COVID-19, J. Infect., 82(6):253-259

Otero Fernandez, M., Thomas, R. J., Garton, N. J., Hudson, A., Haddrell, A. and Reid, J.P. (2018) Assessing the airborne survival of bacteria in populations of aerosol droplets with a novel technology, Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 16: 20180779

Garton, N.J. and Barer, M. R. (2018) Mycobacterial Lipid Bodies and the Chemosensitivity and Transmission of Tuberculosis, In Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology Series. Health Consequences of Microbial Interactions with Hydrocarbons, Oils, and Lipids. H. Goldfine ed., Springer Verlag. DOI:

Jankute, M., Nataraj, V., Lee, O. Y-C., Wu, H.I.T., Ridell, M., Garton, N.J. et al. (2017) The role of hydrophobicity in tuberculosis evolution and pathogenicity, Scientific Reports, 7(1):1315.

Hector, J, Anderson, S. T., Banda, G., Kamolozi, M., Jeffreys, L. F., Shani, D., Garton, N.J., et al. (2017) TST-positivity in household contacts of tuberculosis patients: A case-contact study in Malawi, BMC Infectious Diseases, 17(1): 259.

Sloan, D.J., Mwandumba, H.C., Garton, N.J., Khoo, S.H., Butterworth, A.E., Allan, T.A., Heyderman, R. S., Corbett, E.L., Barer, M.R., Davies, G.R. (2015) Pharmacodynamic modelling of bacilliary elimination rates and detection of bacterial lipid bodies in sputum to predict therapeutic efficiency in pulmonary tuberculosis, Clinical Infectious Diseases, 61, 1-8. 

Garton, N. J., Mukamalova, G. V. and Barer, M. R. (2013) Mycobacterial Lipid Bodies and Resuscitation-promoting Factor Dependency as Potential Biomarkers of Response to Chemotherapy, In Tuberculosis Laboratory Diagnosis and Treatment Strategies, T. D. McHugh (ed.), CABI International.

Garton, N. J., Waddell, S. J., Sherratt, A. L., Lee, S-M., Smith, R. J., Senner, C., Hinds, J., Rajakumar, K., Adegbola, R. A., Besra, G. S., Butcher, P. D. and Barer, M. R. (2008) Cytological and transcript analyses reveal fat and lazy persister-like bacilli in tuberculous sputum, PLOS Med., Apr 1;5(4):e75. 

Garton, N. J., Gilleron M., Brando T., Dan, H-H., Giguere, S., Puzo, G., Prescott, J. F., Sutcliffe, I. C. (2002) A novel lipoarabinomannan from the equine pathogen Rhodococcus equi - Structure and effect on macrophage cytokine production, J. Biol. Chem., 277(35), 31722-31733. 

Garton, N. J., Christensen, H., Minnikin, D. E., Adegbola, R. A. and Barer, M. R. (2002) Intracellular lipophilic inclusions of mycobacteria in vitro and in sputum, Microbiology, 148, 2951-2958.


I am prepared to supervise PhD students to undertake projects involved in mycobacterial lipid metabolism, in particular the interactions between pathogenic species and the host, mycobacterial lipid bodies, the physiological role of these and consequences for treatment and transmission (e.g. survival in the environment and infectivity for a new host).  
I am prepared to supervise projects involved in neutral lipid metabolism and lipid bodies of other bacterial pathogens such as Rhodococcus equi and Acinetobacter baumannii.
I am interested in pathogenic bacteria that transmit via aerosol and investigating how they are adapted for aerosolisation, their responses within aerosol and consequences for infection.
With Prof Clokie, I have an interest in developing bacteriophages to treat intracellular bacterial infections and developing methods to overcome the hurdle of their intracellular delivery.


I am involved in teaching in all three years of the Biological Sciences and Medical Bioscience undergraduate degrees. I teach on BS1000 providing tutorials to support first year modules in cell biology microbiology and biochemistry. For the second year co-convene and teach on module BS2030 ‘Principles of Microbiology’. I am the deputy course convenor of the ‘Infection and Immunity’ and ‘Chronic Disease and Immunity’ MSc courses (taught content within these is also taken by fourth year MBiolSci undergraduates). I lead the BS4307/BS4317/MB7306/MB7316 ‘Research Project’ Modules within these. I also co-convene and contribute to the MB7309 ‘Infection and Immunity’ MB7308 ‘Theory and Techniques in Infection and Immunity’ and MB7318 ‘Theory and Techniques in Chronic Disease and Immunity’ modules. I supervise BSc and MSc project students and PhD research projects. I am also a personal tutor providing academic and pastoral support for students.

Press and media

Dr Garton’s research involves understanding bacterial neutral lipid metabolism and how this impacts infection treatment and spread of disease.


Membership of Professional Bodies:

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Member of the Acid Fast Club, UK.
Member of the Microbiology Society, UK
Member of the Aerosol Society, UK
Honorary Consultant for and Member of the Biological Stain Commission


B.A. Chemistry (Hons)

PhD Microbiology:  Investigation of mycobacterial lipid domains by use of fluorescent probes.

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