Characterising the cyanobacterial cytoskeleton

LEASMITH_U20DTP

Cyanobacteria (photosynthetic bacteria) are amongst the most abundant organisms on the planet, accounting for approximately a quarter of carbon fixation. Some species are excellent platforms for renewable production of biofuels and industrial compounds, due to their ability to convert water and carbon dioxide into chemicals, using energy from sunlight.

However, our knowledge of many key aspects of cyanobacterial biology is limited. Cyanobacteria are complex prokaryotes, incorporating a series of internal thylakoid membranes, the site of photosynthesis, while others are organised in long filaments of cells, some specialised to fix nitrogen. How this cell organisation occurs is not well understood but likely involves cytoskeletal proteins. In this project, the student will investigate the role of cytoskeletal proteins in several cyanobacterial species, and how these affect cellular growth, division and organisation.

The student will use a range of techniques in this project including bacterial genetics, biochemistry, bioinformatics and microscopy, in addition to presenting scientific work in oral and written format. This will provide excellent training for future positions in academia, industry or scientific publishing.

For related papers please see Lea-Smith et al (2015), PNAS; (2016), Plant Physiology; Holmes et al (2013), PNAS; Saar et al (2018), Nature Energy.