Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Health Sciences profile

Dr Nick Heng

PositionSenior Lecturer
DepartmentDepartment of Oral Sciences
QualificationsBSc(Hons) PhD
Research summaryMolecular oral microbiology and whole genome biology

Research

Dr Heng's primary research expertise is in the field of molecular microbiology specialising in bacterial genetics and gene expression networks/pathways. His current research activities include the sequencing and analysis of oral bacterial genomes, and the characterisation of oral microbial diversity in relation to health and disease. Both areas of research utilise next- generation DNA sequencing technologies, namely the Roche GS-FLX Titanium and GS Junior 454-based pyrosequencers, and the Life Technologies Ion Torrent-based PGM system. The scope of research conducted by Dr Heng's group during 2011-2012 included:
  • (1) Characterising the genomes of (a) antimicrobial-producing strain of the oral bacterium Streptococcus salivarius, and (b) Streptococcus trichosurus CB1, a strain of a new streptococcal species isolated from the oral cavity of a New Zealand-adapted brushtail possum.
  • (2) Analysing the microbial (bacterial) diversity of the human oral cavity in health and disease (periodontal disease and dental caries) using the GS-FLX Titanium high- throughput DNA

    Research and Collaboration
    Within the Faculty of Dentistry, Dr Heng has ongoing collaborations with Professor G.J. Seymour and Associate Professor M.P. Cullinan (Discipline of Periodontics), and Professor B.K. Drummond (Discipline of Paediatric Dentistry) in relation to the metagenomic projects. In addition, he collaborates with Professor J.R.Tagg, Dr J.D.F. Hale and Dr P.A.Wescombe (all from BLIS Technologies Ltd) in the field of bacterially-produced antimicrobial proteins (bacteriocins), mainly focusing on genomic data-mining. Among the aims of the genome sequencing projects are: (a) uncover new antimicrobial proteins produced by S. salivarius which could be useful in the development of new oral probiotic preparations and (b) determine if there are any virulence factors encoded by the genomes in order to verify the 'safety' of the species for use as probiotics. In 2012, an international collaboration was set up with Dr A. Malik (Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia), which will result in genome analyses of bacteriocin-producing lactic acid bacteria isolated from Indonesian foods.

Publications

Benn, A. M. L., Heng, N. C. K., Broadbent, J. M., & Thomson, W. M. (2018). Studying the human oral microbiome: Challenges and the evolution of solutions. Australian Dental Journal, 63(1), 14-24. doi: 10.1111/adj.12565

Seymour, G. J., Cullinan, M. P., & Heng, N. C. K. (Eds.). (2017). Oral biology: Molecular techniques and applications: Methods in molecular biology (Vol. 1537) (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer, 503p. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6685-1

Heng, N. C. K., Yeh, C.-W., & Malik, A. (2017). Draft genome sequence of Weissella confusa MBF8-1, a glucansucrase- and bacteriocin-producing strain isolated from a homemade soy product. Genome Announcements, 5(4), e01497-16. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.01497-16

Grazia, S. E., Sumayyah, S., Haiti, F. S., Sahlan, M., Heng, N. C. K., & Malik, A. (2017). Bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance (BLIS) activity of Streptococcus macedonicus MBF10-2 and its synergistic action in combination with antibiotics. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, 10(12), 1140-1145. doi: 10.1016/j.apjtm.2017.11.001

Hale, J. D. F., Wescombe, P. A., Tagg, J. R., & Heng, N. C. K. (2016). Streptococcal bacteriocin-producing strains as oral probiotic agents. In R. L. Dorit, S. M. Roy & M. A. Riley (Eds.), The bacteriocins: Current knowledge and future prospects. (pp. 103-126). Poole, UK: Caister Academic Press. doi: 10.21775/9781910190371.06

Edited Book - Research

Seymour, G. J., Cullinan, M. P., & Heng, N. C. K. (Eds.). (2017). Oral biology: Molecular techniques and applications: Methods in molecular biology (Vol. 1537) (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer, 503p. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6685-1

Seymour, G. J., Cullinan, M. P., & Heng, N. C. K. (Eds.). (2010). Oral Biology. New York: Springer, 360p.

^ Top of page

Chapter in Book - Research

Hale, J. D. F., Wescombe, P. A., Tagg, J. R., & Heng, N. C. K. (2016). Streptococcal bacteriocin-producing strains as oral probiotic agents. In R. L. Dorit, S. M. Roy & M. A. Riley (Eds.), The bacteriocins: Current knowledge and future prospects. (pp. 103-126). Poole, UK: Caister Academic Press. doi: 10.21775/9781910190371.06

Heng, N. C. K., & Stanton, J.-A. L. (2010). Oral bacterial genome sequencing using the high-throughput Roche Genome Sequencer FLX System. In G. J. Seymour, M. P. Cullinan & N. C. K. Heng (Eds.), Oral Biology. (pp. 197-218). New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-820-1_14

Heng, N. C. K., Wescombe, P. A., Burton, J. P., Jack, R. W., & Tagg, J. R. (2007). The diversity of bacteriocins in gram-positive bacteria. In M. A. Riley & M. A. Chavan (Eds.), Bacteriocins: Ecology and evolution. (pp. 45-92). Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Heng, N. C. K., & Jack, R. W. (2006). Microcins. In A. J. Kastin (Ed.), Handbook of biologically active peptides. (pp. 75-82). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Wescombe, P. A., Heng, N. C. K., Jack, R. W., & Tagg, J. R. (2005). Bacteriocins associated with cytotoxicity for eukaryotic cells. In T. Proft (Ed.), Microbial toxins: Molecular and cellular biology. (pp. 399-448). Norfolk, England: Horizon Bioscience.

^ Top of page

Journal - Research Article

Heng, N. C. K., Yeh, C.-W., & Malik, A. (2017). Draft genome sequence of Weissella confusa MBF8-1, a glucansucrase- and bacteriocin-producing strain isolated from a homemade soy product. Genome Announcements, 5(4), e01497-16. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.01497-16

Grazia, S. E., Sumayyah, S., Haiti, F. S., Sahlan, M., Heng, N. C. K., & Malik, A. (2017). Bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance (BLIS) activity of Streptococcus macedonicus MBF10-2 and its synergistic action in combination with antibiotics. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, 10(12), 1140-1145. doi: 10.1016/j.apjtm.2017.11.001

Walker, G. V., Heng, N. C. K., Carne, A., Tagg, J. R., & Wescombe, P. A. (2016). Salivaricin E and abundant dextranase activity may contribute to the anti-cariogenic potential of the probiotic candidate Streptococcus salivarius JH. Microbiology, 162(3), 476-486. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000237

Malik, A., Sumayyah, S., Yeh, C.-W., & Heng, N. C. K. (2016). Identification and sequence analysis of pWcMBF8-1, a bacteriocin-encoding plasmid from the lactic acid bacterium Weissella confusa. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 363(8), fnw059. doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnw059

Cullinan, M. P., Bird, P. S., Heng, N. C. K., West, M. J., & Seymour, G. J. (2013). No evidence of triclosan-resistant bacteria following long-term use of triclosan-containing toothpaste. Journal of Periodontal Research, 49(2), 220-225. doi: 10.1111/jre.12098

Wescombe, P. A., Hale, J. D. F., Heng, N. C. K., & Tagg, J. R. (2012). Developing oral probiotics from Streptococcus salivarius. Future Microbiology, 7(12), 1355-1371. doi: 10.2217/fmb.12.113

Leishman, S. J., Ford, P. J., Do, H. L., Palmer, J. E., Heng, N. C. K., West, M. J., Seymour, G. J., & Cullinan, M. P. (2012). Periodontal pathogen load and increased antibody response to heat shock protein 60 in patients with cardiovascular disease. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 39(10), 923-930. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.2012.01934.x

Rose-Hill, S., Ford, P. J., Leishman, S. J., Do, H. L., Palmer, J. E., Heng, N. C. K., … Seymour, G. J., & Cullinan, M. P. (2011). Improved periodontal health and cardiovascular risk. Australian Dental Journal, 56(4), 352-357. doi: 10.1111/j.1834-7819.2011.01363.x

Frese, S. A., Benson, A. K., Tannock, G. W., Loach, D. M., Kim, J., Zhang, M., … Heng, N. C. K., … Walter, J. (2011). The evolution of host specialization in the vertebrate gut symbiont Lactobacillus reuteri. PLoS Genetics, 7(2), e1001314. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001314

Heng, N. C. K., Haji-Ishak, N. S., Kalyan, A., Wong, A. Y. C., Lovrić, M., Bridson, J. M., Artamonova, J., Stanton, J.-A. L., Wescombe, P. A., Burton, J. P., Cullinan, M. P., & Tagg, J. R. (2011). Genome sequence of the bacteriocin-producing oral probiotic Streptococcus salivarius strain M18. Journal of Bacteriology, 193(22), 6402-6403. doi: 10.1128/jb.06001-11

Wescombe, P. A., Heng, N. C. K., Burton, J. P., & Tagg, J. R. (2010). Something old and something new: An update on the amazing repertoire of bacteriocins produced by Streptococcus salivarius. Probiotics & Antimicrobial Proteins, 2(1), 37-45. doi: 10.1007/s12602-009-9026-7

Swe, P. M., Heng, N. C. K., Cook, G. M., Tagg, J. R., & Jack, R. W. (2010). Identification of Dysl, the immunity factor of the streptococcal bacteriocin dysgalacticin. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 76(23), 7885-7889. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01707-10

Wescombe, P. A., Heng, N. C. K., Burton, J. P., Chilcott, C. N., & Tagg, J. R. (2009). Streptococcal bacteriocins and the case for Streptococcus salivarius as model oral probiotics. Future Microbiology, 4(7), 819-835. doi: 10.2217/fmb.09.61

Swe, P. M., Heng, N. C. K., Ting, Y.-T., Baird, H. J., Carne, A., Tauch, A., Tagg, J. R., & Jack, R. W. (2007). ef1097 and ypkK encode enterococcin V583 and corynicin JK, members of a new family of antimicrobial proteins (bacteriocins) with modular structure from Gram-positive bacteria. Microbiology, 153, 3218-3227.

Heng, N. C. K., Tagg, J. R., & Tompkins, G. R. (2007). Competence-dependent bacteriocin production by Streptococcus gordonii DL1 (Challis). Journal of Bacteriology, 189(4), 1468-1472.

Heng, N. C. K., Burtenshaw, G. A., Jack, R. W., & Tagg, J. R. (2007). Ubericin A, a class IIa bacteriocin produced by Streptococcus uberis. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 73(23), 7763-7766.

Heng, N. C. K., Tagg, J. R., & Tompkins, G. R. (2006). Identification and characterization of the loci encoding the competence-associated alternative σ factor of Streptococcus gordonii. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 259(1), 27-34.

Eyles, R. F., Brooks, H. J. L., Townsend, C. R., Burtenshaw, G. A., Heng, N. C. K., Jack, R. W., & Weinstein, P. (2006). Comparison of Campylobacter jejuni PFGE and Penner subtypes in human infections and in water samples from the Taieri River catchment of New Zealand. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 101, 18-25.

Heng, N. C. K., & Tagg, J. R. (2006). What's in a name? Class distinction for bacteriocins [Correspondence]. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 4. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/v4/n2/full/nrmicro1273-c1.html

Heng, N. C. K., Ragland, N. L., Swe, P. M., Baird, H. J., Inglis, M. A., Tagg, J. R., & Jack, R. W. (2006). Dysgalacticin: A novel, plasmid-encoded antimicrobial protein (bacteriocin) produced by Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis. Microbiology, 152, 1991-2001.

Wescombe, P. A., Burton, J. P., Cadieux, P. A., Klesse, N. A., Hyink, O., Heng, N. C. K., … Tagg, J. R. (2006). Megaplasmids encode differing combinations of lantibiotics in Streptococcus salivarius. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, 90, 269-280.

Hale, J. D. F., Heng, N. C. K., Jack, R. W., & Tagg, J. R. (2005). Identification of nlmTE, the locus encoding the ABC transport system required for export of nonlantibiotic mutacins in Streptococcus mutans. Journal of Bacteriology, 187(14), 5036-5039.

Hale, J. D. F., Ting, Y.-T., Jack, R. W., Tagg, J. R., & Heng, N. C. K. (2005). Bacteriocin (mutacin) production by Streptococcus mutans genome sequence reference strain UA159: Elucidation of the antimicrobial repertoire by genetic dissection. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 71(11), 7613-7617.

Rahimi, M., Heng, N. C. K., Kieser, J. A., & Tompkins, G. R. (2005). Genotypic comparison of bacteria recovered from human bite marks and teeth using arbitrarily primed PCR. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 99, 1265-1270.

Heng, N. C. K., Burtenshaw, G. A., Jack, R. W., & Tagg, J. R. (2004). Sequence analysis of pDN571, a plasmid encoding novel bacteriocin production in M-type 57 Streptococcus pyogenes. Plasmid, 52, 225-229.

Walter, J., Heng, N. C. K., Hammes, W. P., Loach, D. M., Tannock, G. W., & Hertel, C. (2003). Identification of Lactobacillus reuteri genes specifically induced in the mouse gastrointestinal tract. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 69(4), 2044-2051.

Heng, N. C. K., Bateup, J. M., Loach, D. M., Wu, X., Jenkinson, H. F., Morrison, M., & Tannock, G. W. (1999). Influence of different functional elements of plasmid pGT232 on maintenance of recombinant plasmids in Lactobacillus reuteri populations in vitro and in vivo. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 65, 5378-5385.

Heng, N. C. K., Jenkinson, H. F., & Tannock, G. W. (1997). Cloning and expression of an endo-1,3-1,4-β-glucanase gene from Bacillus macerans in Lactobacillus reuteri. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 63(8), 3336-3340.

^ Top of page

Journal - Research Other

Benn, A. M. L., Heng, N. C. K., Broadbent, J. M., & Thomson, W. M. (2018). Studying the human oral microbiome: Challenges and the evolution of solutions. Australian Dental Journal, 63(1), 14-24. doi: 10.1111/adj.12565

More publications...