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Sir John Walsh Research Institute researcher profile

Associate Professor Nick Heng

PositionAssociate Professor
DepartmentDepartment of Oral Sciences
QualificationsBSc(Hons) PhD
Research summaryMicrobial genetics, next-generation DNA sequencing technology and bioinformatics
Teaching
  • First-Year Coordinator (Bachelor of Oral Health)
  • Paper coordinator DEOH101, DEOH102, DTEC103 and DENT581
  • BDS(Honours) Programme Coordinator
Memberships
  • Member of the University of Otago Institutional Biological Safety Committee (IBSC)
  • Primary professional society is the New Zealand Microbiological Society

Research

Nick's research expertise is in the field of molecular microbiology specialising in the following areas:

  • The use of next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS) technology (and associated bioinformatic strategies) for microbial genomics (whole-genome sequencing)
  • The use of NGS to investigate changes in oral microbial populations in relation to health and disease, and
  • Biochemical and genetic characterisation of antimicrobial proteins (bacteriocins) produced by oral bacteria, mainly members of the genus Streptococcus

Nick's current research activities include whole-genome sequencing, oral metagenomics (characterisation of the oral microbiota in health and disease), and bioinformatic analyses, all in relation to oral biology.

Publications

Benn, A. M. L., Heng, N. C. K., Thomson, W. M., & Broadbent, J. M. (2022). Plaque and dental caries risk in mid-life. Caries Research. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1159/000527255

Ratnayake, J., Veerasamy, A., Ahmed, H., Coburn, D., Loch, C., Gray, A. R., Lyons, K. M., Heng, N. C. K., Cannon, R. D., … Brunton, P. A. (2022). Clinical and microbiological evaluation of a chlorhexidine-modified glass ionomer cement (GIC-CHX) restoration placed using the atraumatic restorative treatment (ART) technique. Materials, 15, 5044. doi: 10.3390/ma15145044

Benn, A. M. L., Heng, N. C. K., Thomson, W. M., Sissons, C. H., Gellen, L. S., Gray, A. R., & Broadbent, J. M. (2022). Associations of sex, oral hygiene and smoking with oral species in distinct habitats at age 32 years. European Journal of Oral Sciences, 130, e12829. doi: 10.1111/eos.12829

Allen, L. L., Heng, N. C. K., & Tompkins, G. R. (2021). Streptococcus salivarius isolates of varying acid tolerance exhibit F1F0-ATPase conservation [Brief report]. Caries Research, 55, 288-291. doi: 10.1159/000516175

Reid, P., Heng, N. C. K., Hale, J. D., Krishnan, D., Crane, J., Tagg, J. R., & Milne, T. J. (2020). A TaqMan™-based quantitative PCR screening assay for the probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 based on the specific detection of its megaplasmid-associated salivaricin B locus [Note]. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 170, 105837. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2020.105837

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

Edited Book - Research

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

Edited 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

Chapter in Book - Research

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

Chapter in Book - Research

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.

Chapter in Book - Research

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

Chapter in Book - Research

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.

Chapter in Book - Research

Benn, A. M. L., Heng, N. C. K., Thomson, W. M., & Broadbent, J. M. (2022). Plaque and dental caries risk in mid-life. Caries Research. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1159/000527255

Journal - Research Article

Benn, A. M. L., Heng, N. C. K., Thomson, W. M., Sissons, C. H., Gellen, L. S., Gray, A. R., & Broadbent, J. M. (2022). Associations of sex, oral hygiene and smoking with oral species in distinct habitats at age 32 years. European Journal of Oral Sciences, 130, e12829. doi: 10.1111/eos.12829

Journal - Research Article

Ratnayake, J., Veerasamy, A., Ahmed, H., Coburn, D., Loch, C., Gray, A. R., Lyons, K. M., Heng, N. C. K., Cannon, R. D., … Brunton, P. A. (2022). Clinical and microbiological evaluation of a chlorhexidine-modified glass ionomer cement (GIC-CHX) restoration placed using the atraumatic restorative treatment (ART) technique. Materials, 15, 5044. doi: 10.3390/ma15145044

Journal - Research Article

Heng, N. C. K., & Stanton, J.-A. L. (2020). Next-generation DNA sequencing of oral microbes at the Sir John Walsh Research Institute: Technologies, tools and achievements. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 50(1), 91-107. doi: 10.1080/03036758.2019.1687530

Journal - Research Article

Benic, G. Z., Farella, M., Morgan, X. C., Viswam, J., Heng, N. C., Cannon, R. D., & Mei, L. (2019). Oral probiotics reduce halitosis in patients wearing orthodontic braces: A randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Breath Research, 13, 036010. doi: 10.1088/1752-7163/ab1c81

Journal - Research Article

Sartonoa, G., Rizqiyah, I., Asmarinah, A., Heng, N. C. K., & Malik, A. (2019). Three bacteriocin peptides from a lactic acid bacterium Weissella confusa MBF8-1 with spermicidal activity. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 20(9), 766-771. doi: 10.2174/1389201020666190617163310

Journal - Research Article

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

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

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.

Journal - Research Article

Allen, L. L., Heng, N. C. K., & Tompkins, G. R. (2021). Streptococcus salivarius isolates of varying acid tolerance exhibit F1F0-ATPase conservation [Brief report]. Caries Research, 55, 288-291. doi: 10.1159/000516175

Journal - Research Other

Reid, P., Heng, N. C. K., Hale, J. D., Krishnan, D., Crane, J., Tagg, J. R., & Milne, T. J. (2020). A TaqMan™-based quantitative PCR screening assay for the probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 based on the specific detection of its megaplasmid-associated salivaricin B locus [Note]. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 170, 105837. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2020.105837

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

Journal - Research Other

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