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Senior Lecturer in Cellular and Molecular Sciences

Department: Applied Sciences

Dr Vartual Sangal Staffprofile Northumbriauniversity255 


Dr Sangal is interested in evolutionary and genetic analysis of whole genome sequences of bacteria and microbial community analysis of soil samples from challenging environments using computational approaches. His group works on identification and characterisation of novel virulence genes in pathogenic bacteria using molecular techniques. His research also emphasises the importance of incorporating genome sequence-based approaches into systematics for a reliable identification and classification of prokaryotic taxa.

Dr Sangal completed his Ph.D. at the Max-Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin followed by postdoctoral research at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He established his independent research at Northumbria University as an Anniversary Research Fellow and was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Cellular and Molecular Sciences in September 2016.

Dr Sangal works in collaboration with many research groups both nationally and internationally and delivered invited talks in several international conferences.

+44 191 243 7173


Ph.D.  (Molecular Biology), M.Sc. (Microbiology), B.Sc. 

Research Themes & Scholarly Interests

1. Genomic and functional characterisation of bacteria using an integrated multi-omics approach

2. Identification and molecular characterisation of novel virulence genes in pathogenic bacteria

3. Microbial ecology and biosynthetic potential of bacteria from extreme environments

4. Applications of next-generation sequencing in prokaryotic systematics

Professional Activity

1. Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA;

2. Member of the Microbiology Society, UK (

3. Editorial board member:

BMC Microbiology (

Frontiers in Microbiology (

Sponsors & Collaborators

Dr Sangal works on genomic and functional characterisation of a range of bacteria in collaboration with international groups from Belarus, Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico and New Zealand.

Nationally, he works in collaboration with Prof Paul Hoskisson, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow on molecular characterisation of C. diphtheriae and with Prof Michael Goodfellow, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne on Actinomycetes from extreme environments. He also works with colleagues including Prof Iain Sutcliffe, Prof Gary Back and Dr Lynn Dover within the Department on different projects.

Current/Recent Projects

1. Genomic and functional characterisation of a global collection of Corynebacterium diphtheriae strains

2. Molecular characterisation of novel virulence genes in C. diphtheriae strains

3. Molecular characterisation of novel pathways for cell envelope protein localisation in Rhodococcus equi

4. Microbial community analyses and biosynthetic potential of novel actinobacteria isolated from challenging/extreme environments

5.Resolving structure of complex actinobacterial taxa using phylogenomic approaches

Key Publications/Outputs

Selected publications: (For my full list of publications, please click here:

Sangal V, Goodfellow M, Blom J, Tan GYA, Klenk HP, Sutcliffe IC. (2018) Revisiting the taxonomic status of the biomedically and industrially important genus Amycolatopsis, using a phylogenomic approach. Frontiers in Microbiology. 9: 2281.

Subedi R, Kolodkina V, Sutcliffe IC, Simpson-Louredo L, Hirata R Jr, Titov L, Mattos-Guaraldi AL, Burkovski A, Sangal V. (2018) Genomic analyses reveal two distinct lineages of Corynebacterium ulcerans strains. New Microbes New Infect. 25:7-13.

Carro L, Nouioui I, Sangal V, Meier-Kolthoff J, Trujillo M, Montero-Calasanz M, Sahin N, Smith D, Kim K, Peluso P, Deshpande S, Woyke T, Shapiro N, Kyrpides N, Klenk H-P, Göker M, Goodfellow M. (2018).  Genome-based classification of micromonosporae with a focus on their biotechnological and ecological potential. Scientific Reports. 8(1):525.

Grosse-Kock S, Kolodkina V, Schwalbe EC, Blom J, Burkovski A, Hoskisson PA, Brisse S, Smith D, Sutcliffe IC, Titov L, Sangal V. (2017) Genomic analysis of endemic clones of toxigenic and non-toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae in Belarus during and after the major epidemic in 1990s. BMC Genomics. 18(1):873.

Ott L, Hacker E, Kunert T, Karrington I, Etschel P, Lang R, Wiesmann V, Wittenberg T, Singh A, Varela C, Bhatt A, Sangal V, Burkovski A. (2017) Analysis of Corynebacterium diphtheriae macrophage interaction: Dispensability of corynomycolic acids for inhibition of phagolysosome maturation and identification of a new gene involved in synthesis of the corynomycolic acid layer. PLoS One. 12(7):e0180105.

Sangal V, Goodfellow M, Jones AL, Schwalbe EC, Blom J, Hoskisson PA, Sutcliffe IC. (2016) Next-generation systematics: An innovative approach to resolve the structure of complex prokaryotic taxa. Scientific Reports. 6:38392.

Sangal V, Blom J, Sutcliffe IC, von Hunolstein C, Burkovski A, Hoskisson PA.(2015) Adherence and invasive properties of Corynebacterium diphtheriae strains correlate with the predicted membrane-associated and secreted proteome. BMC Genomics. 16 (1): 765.

Girard G, Traag BA, Sangal V, Mascini N, Hoskisson PA, Goodfellow M, van Wezel GP. (2013) A novel taxonomic marker that discriminates between morphologically complex actinomycetes. Open Biology 3(10):130073.

Holt KE, Baker S, Weill FX, Holmes EC, Kitchen A, Yu J, Sangal V, Brown DJ, Coia JE, Kim DW, Choi SY, Kim SH, da Silveira WD, Pickard DJ, Farrar JJ, Parkhil J, Dougan G, Thompson NR. (2012) Shigella sonnei genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis indicate recent global dissemination from Europe. Nature Genetics, 44: 1056-1059.

Achtman M, Wain J, Weill FX, Nair S, Zhou Z, Sangal V, Krauland MG, Hale JL, Harbottle H, Uesbeck A, Dougan G, Harrison LH, Brisse S, the S. enterica MLST study group. (2012) Multilocus sequence typing as a replacement for serotyping in Salmonella enterica. PLoS Pathogens, 8(6):e1002776.


PGR Supervision

Ph.D. supervision

1. Principle supervisor: Ms Megan Paterson

2. Co-supervisor: Mr Lewis Paul Cuthbertson

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