University of Dundee

"How do you build a wall? Understanding biophysical principles of bacterial cell division using advanced light microscopy "

Event Date: 
Monday, November 8, 2021 - 13:00 to 14:00
Event Location: 
Microsoft Teams
Dr Helge Dorfmueller
Event Speaker: 
Dr Séamus Holden
University of Newcastle
Event Type: 

MMB External Virtual Seminar



During bacterial cell division, a nanoscale synthesis machinery spontaneously builds a micron scale crosswall or septum across the middle of the cell. The complexity of this challenge is more obvious if we imagine rescaling cell division proteins to human size, and then try to figure out how they can build a septum the size of the world’s tallest building.  Furthermore, due to the small size of bacteria this process takes place almost at the diffraction limit of light microscopy, making observation of bacterial division protein dynamics an intense technical challenge. 



I will talk about our efforts to understand how the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis divides. In particular I will discuss our findings about how motile filaments of the cytoskeleton protein FtsZ guide self-assembly of the cell division machinery, drive cell division initiation, and guide construction of the division septum. I will also discuss the microscopy development which has supported this work, including Vertical Cell Imaging by Nanostructured Immobilization (VerCINI), a highresolution bacterial imaging method combining microfluidics, quantitative image analysis and nanofabrication-enabled control of cell orientation.