Imaging antibiotic production in nature


The discovery & development of penicillin sparked ‘The Golden Age of Antibiotics’ which spanned the 1940’s to 1960’s when most major classes of antibiotics were discovered. Indeed, most antibiotics in clinical use today are derived from natural products made by bacteria.

Alarmingly, the pipeline of new antibiotics has dried up at a time when Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and emerging new pathogens has made their discovery a matter of extreme urgency. AMR is an increasingly serious threat to global public health.

The aim of this project is to better understand how bacteria organise the cellular machinery they use to produce antibiotics, with the ultimate aim of engineering this machinery to carry out new functions. This will enable the production of valuable new antibiotics for use against drug resistant pathogens.

The successful candidate will have access to cutting-edge research facilities as well as a stimulating research and training environment. They will be part of an interdisciplinary team and through the project provides an exceptional training opportunity to provide a foundation in microscopy and bioimaging, enzymology, molecular microbiology, antibiotic biosynthesis and function, analytical chemistry and x-ray crystallography.

The combination of skills and experience provided by this studentship will make the successful candidate highly employable in both academia and industry.


T. A. Scott et al (2017) An L-threonine transaldolase is required for L-threo-β-hydroxy-α-amino acid assembly during obafluorin biosynthesis. Nature Commun. 8:15935.

Straight et al (2007) A singular enzymatic megacomplex from Bacillus subtilis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104:305-310.

T. A. Scott et al (2019) Immunity-guided identification of threonyl-tRNA synthetase as the molecular target of obafluorin, a β-lactone antibiotic. ACS Chem. Biol. 2663-2871.