Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology

Research Themes

Research Themes

Our research falls into six themes.

Bacterium-host Interactions

The commensal bacteria that inhabit our bodies are essential for us to live. Meanwhile, other bacteria are pathogens that pose serious threats to health. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis and how pathogens subvert host cellular processes to induce disease will inform the development of new treatments.

Cell Envelope, Growth and Division

The cell envelope, comprising wall and one or two membrane layers, plays many key roles in bacterial cell function. It specifies cell shape, provides strength and protection, and represents a critical interface with the environment.

The synthesis of cell envelope layers needs to be coordinated with cell growth. The topology of envelope growth must be radically changed to bring about cell division. Finally, envelope functions represent some of the best targets for antibiotics.

Transcription and Translation

Transcription and translation are two of the most fundamental and conserved processes in nature. Despite the importance of these processes, many questions remain about the machinery and its regulation.

Protein Structure, Function and Engineering

Proteins are the basic building blocks of life. Our scientists are exploring the molecular structure and biophysical properties of bacterial proteins. Particular strengths lie in studies of bacterial protein interactions with complex carbohydrates, other proteins, lipids, DNA, enzymes and metals.

Chromosome Replication and Segregation

Although the core components of the DNA replication machinery of bacterial cells are well characterised, many features of the regulation of replication and the subsequent segregation of replicated sister chromosomes remain enigmatic.

Synthetic Biology, Development and Gene Regulation

Bacterial cells need to respond to a wide variety of environmental challenges. To do so, they use different adaptive processes, including complex morphological changes such as sporulation and biofilm formation. We study several of the signal transduction networks which regulate bacterial developmental processes as well as transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomics networks.

Our unrivalled expertise in the computational design and genetic engineering of various model bacteria makes the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology (CBCB) a centre of excellence for synthetic biology. This emerging discipline will be pivotal in our ability to respond to various challenges of the 21st century.

Computational Biology, Bioinformatics and Bioimage Analysis

We have a robust set of research activities in computational biology, bioinformatics and bioimage analysis. We host state-of-the-art compute servers, microfluidics and microscopy equipment. The new algorithms we develop for bioData analysis, bioCAD and bioImage processing support and advance our research efforts in:

  • chromosome replication and segregation
  • transcription and translation
  • protein structure and function
  • cell growth and division
  • bacterial-host interactions
  • synthetic biology