University of Dundee

Molecular Microbiology

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MRC DTP 4 Year PhD Programme: Cell biology of a bacterial nano-weapon. Supervisors: Dr Sarah Coulthurst (Lead); Dr Colin Rickman (2nd Supervisor), Heriot-Watt

Many bacterial pathogens use the Type VI secretion system (T6SS) nanomachine to fire diverse, toxic ‘effector’ proteins directly into target cells. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the T6SS plays a key role in the virulence and competitiveness of diverse Gram-negative bacteria, including important human pathogens. Pathogens can use T6SSs to directly target eukaryotic organisms, as classical virulence factors. Alternatively, many pathogens can use T6SSs to target other bacterial cells, killing or inhibiting rivals.

4 Year Wellcome Trust PhD Programme: Proteins in the biofilm matrix

Biofilm formation is the process by which single celled microbes form an adherent community. Bacillus subtilis is a Gram-positive bacterium that lives in the soil and can form biofilms on the roots of plants. In this environment the bacteria stimulate growth of the plant and therefore theoretically can function as an alternative to petrochemical derived fertilisers. The resident bacterial cells synthesize a extracellular matrix containing protein, DNA and polysaccharides that surrounds and protects the cells in the biofilm.