Rapid detection of antibiotic resistant Mycoplasma genitalium

Duration: 2017 - 2020

Funding Source: SpeeDx Pty Ltd and Pathology Queensland

Chief Investigators: David Whiley, Emma Sweeney, Ella Trembizki, Cameron Buckley, Chery Bletchly Graeme Nimmo.

Postdoctoral Researcher: Kym Lowry

Research Assistants: Carolyn Pardo


To develop and validate novel molecular tests that can rapidly detect the presence of Mycoplasma genitalium mutations causing antibiotic resistance.


Mycoplasma genitalium is a rapidly emerging sexually transmitted infection that is frequently associated with urogenital and rectal infections. The United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has listed M. genitalium as an emerging STI threat, due to the rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance. Over the last decade, the number of clinical cases of macrolide resistant and quinolone resistant M. genitalium has dramatically increased, making these infections increasingly difficult to treatment.

Key challenges include:

  • Antibiotic-resistant M. genitalium strains may fail recommended therapies. This not only impacts upon the infected patient, as failure to cure infection leaves the potential for the infection to be transmitted to others.
  • Antibiotic resistant M. genitalium strains are present and in fact quite common in most regions throughout the world, including in Australia.
  • M. genitalium bacteria are difficult to test using conventional bacterial culture-based resistance tests (culture can take up to 6 months). This means only molecular diagnostics are suitable to rapidly diagnose these infections and to inform the right antibiotic treatments


Our new rapid tests will help clinicians select the best possible antibiotic treatments in a timely manner to clear patients of M. genitalium infection. In doing so we can also further reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics, thereby helping prevent further selection and spread of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.


Sweeney EL, Trembizki E, Bletchly C, Bradshaw CS, Menon A, Francis F, Langton-Lockton J, Nimmo GR, Whiley DM. (2019) Levels of Mycoplasma genitalium antimicrobial resistance differ by both region and gender in the state of Queensland, Australia: implications for treatment guidelines. J Clin Microbiol. 57(3) e01555-18.

Project members

Associate Professor David Whiley

Principal Research Fellow
UQ Centre for Clinical Research

Dr Emma Sweeney

Postdoctoral Researcher
UQ Centre for Clinical Research

Dr Ella Trembizki

NHMRC Early Career Fellow
UQ Centre for Clinical Research
Mr Cameron Buckley

Dr Cameron Buckley

Honorary Fellow
UQ Centre for Clinical Research