Understanding Streptomyces cell division to improve antibiotic production


Every cell must divide to grow and to propagate. While most bacteria simply split in half, the decision when and where to divide is more complex in multicellular bacteria like the antibiotic producing soil bacteria Streptomyces. In fact, Streptomyces have two functionally distinct modes of cell division that lead to the formation of connected compartments and individual spores, which can be dispersed into the environment. We have recently identified a key determinant of Streptomyces cell division (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.06.12.448176v1). We now wish to further expand our understanding of how Streptomyces cell division and the formation of division septa.

The aims of the proposed project are:
1) To identify and characterise the components and the structure of division septa that are required for compartmentalised growth of Streptomyces; and
2) To investigate how the formation of these septa contributes to the overall fitness of the organism and the ability to produce antibiotics.

We are looking for an enthusiastic student who is interested in bacterial cell biology and keen to develop skills in molecular microbiology, biochemistry, fluorescence microscopy and metabolomics.

The successful candidate will be based in the laboratory of Dr Susan Schlimpert in the Department for Molecular Microbiology at the John Innes Centre, a world-leading institute for plant and Streptomyces research. The student will have access to cutting-edge research facilities for bacterial genetics, live cell imaging, protein biochemistry, metabolomics platform and a vibrant graduate student community and a stimulating research environment. Through the project and the range of training opportunities available at the institute the student will obtain excellent technical and transferable skills that are highly relevant for working in academia or industry.

1. Bush M.J., Gallagher K.A., Chandra G., Findlay, K.C, Schlimpert S. (2021) Multicellular growth and sporulation in filamentous actinobacteria require the conserved cell division protein SepX, biorxiv doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.12.448176 (preprint)

2. Ramos-León F., Bush M.J., Sallmen J.W., Chandra G., Richardson J., Findlay K.C., McCormick J.R., Schlimpert S.. A conserved cell division protein directly regulates FtsZ dynamics in filamentous and unicellular actinobacteria. Elife. 2021 Mar 17;10:e63387. doi: 10.7554/eLife.63387

3. Schlimpert S., Wassertrom S., Chandra G., Bibb M.J., Findlay, K.C.Flärdh K., Buttner M.J. Two dynaminlike proteins stabilize FtsZ rings during Streptomyces sporulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114, E6176-E6183, doi:10.1073/pnas.1704612114 (2017).