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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Genetic diversification in a multi-species bacterial biofilm community

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The aim of this project is to understand how interactions between bacteria during biofilm development can influence processes of bacterial diversification within a multi-species biofilm model.

Bacterial species such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are highly prevalent in many nosocomical infections. The survival of these bacteria in infectious diseases is greatly enhanced by their ability to grow within surface-associated biofilm communities. Bacteria within biofilms can rapidly acquire extensive phenotypic and genotypic diversity which can enhance the ability of biofilm cells to persist and spread under diverse environmental stresses, in addition to conferring resistance to a wide range of antimicrobials.
This variation has implications in the adaptive evolution of bacterial communities, the metabolic capability of bacteria, and the ability of biofilm cells to establish chronic and antibiotic-resistant infections.
Genomic variation has to date only been studied in monospecies biofilm models despite the fact that biofilm associated infections involve a consortia of bacterial species. As a result the role of multispecies interactions in genomic diversification has been largely unstudied. It is the aim of this Phd to investigate how interactions between bacteria during biofilm development can influence processes of bacterial diversification within a multi-species biofilm model and in doing so aid the ongoing process of vaccine design by identifying mechanism by which phenotypic variations, and thus new vaccine targets, are generated within the bacteria.

Funding

This Phd Position is funded by the BBSRC and is a CASE studentship with additional funding from our industrial partner Pfizer

Supervisors

Dr Jerememy Webb and Dr Stuart Clarke

Related research groups

Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
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