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Dynamics of the Bacillus subtilis divisome


Cell division is essential for the survival and reproduction of a bacterium. During vegetative growth in rod-shaped bacteria, such as Escherichia coli or Bacillus subtilis, cell division takes place at the precise cell centre by the recruitment of the so-called divisome that consists of at least seven conserved essential proteins. Current models of the assembly and dynamics of the divisome are solely based on genetically deduced dependence relationships. Furthermore, there is no information on the temporal order of arrival of divisome proteins and how this affects the assembly and dynamics of cell division. To date, a clear biochemical function has only been described for two of the conserved divisome proteins.

The research described in this proposal is aimed at unravelling the functionalities of the divisome proteins by studying the assembly of the B. subtilis divisome in space and time. These fundamental questions will be addressed using state of the art techniques such as transcriptomics, proteomics and single-cell fluorescence imaging; all based on the unique B. subtilis spore germination system. Knowledge emerging from this research will improve our understanding of the essential process of cell division in B. subtilis and possibly other organisms. Insights from this research might provide new ways to target bacterial cell division and, subsequently, help in the design of innovative antibiotics.

The host laboratory (Errington) has made major contributions to the fields of sporulation, chromosome segregation, and cell morphogenesis, and is considered as one of the worldwide leaders in the field of bacterial cell division. The applicant has a great deal of experience in studying gene-regulatory networks using single cell techniques but has limited expertise i n cell biology. Therefore, the fellowship will complement the research interests of the applicant and will greatly contribute to the acquisition of new skills and scientific development of the applicant.

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