Elucidating the structures of gliding motility in Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences


Bdellovibrio is a natural predator of other gram-negative bacteria, including important plant and animal pathogens, yet is incapable of harming higher organisms. This gives Bdellovibrio enormous potential as a living antimicrobial with applications in medicine, animal health and crop protection. The extraordinary niche of Bdellovibrio means that many of its proteins are extensively adapted to roles in predation and are therefore incomparable to other bacteria. Thus, an appropriate method of understanding the life of this microscopic predator is by directly investigating its molecular mechanisms using structural biology techniques.

This project will utilise biochemistry, structural biology, and genetic techniques to investigate the mechanisms underpinning gliding motility. Gliding is critical to Bdellovibrio's ability to both search for and kill prey, and insight into the motors driving this motility would be instrumental to better understanding its life cycle. We will begin to structurally characterise the components that comprise the multiple gliding machineries belonging to Bdellovibrio, alone and then in complex with one another, with the ambition to characterize a full gliding motor complex. This major work outline can be divided into smaller sub-projects, defined by either the specific component or gliding complex (encoded by distinct operons) of interest. An additional goal will be to use the bacterial two-hybrid system and pull-down assays to identify protein-protein interactions, and targeted mutations of putative binding motifs to reveal the way that the motor elements piece together.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1898543 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 02/10/2017 30/09/2021 Amber Wilson