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Bacterial electrophysiology for diagnosis and modulation of cell vitality

Primary supervisor: Dr Munehiro Asally, University of Warwick

Non-academic partner: Dr Magdalena Karlikowska, Cytecom Ltd

Project Title: Bacterial electrophysiology for diagnosis and modulation of cell vitality

Project description:

Recent advances in systems biology, synthetic biology, and physical biology have begun to highlight the significant importance of non-genetic factors in regulation and signalling of cells. It is increasingly recognised that cell physiology works in conjunction with gene-regulation in most biological processes. For many biological processes, analysis of genes is not sufficient to gain full understanding and rationale engineering of biological systems. Consideration of physiological dynamics is crucial for biotechnology and fundamental understanding of cells. However, our understanding of cell physiology is still falling behind molecular investigations, in part due to difficulties of determining the physiological states of cells.

 

In this collaboration between Cytecom Ltd and Dr Munehiro Asally, University of Warwick, we seek to broaden our understanding of cell physiology by establishing methods for characterising the physiological states of cells and controlling cell growth using electrical stimulation.

Two main goals of this project are:

  1. i) To characterise electrically induced membrane potential dynamics
  2. ii) To modulate growth rates and antibiotic tolerance by electrical stimulation

 

The project will combine molecular biology, fluorescence time-lapse microscopy, biophysical assays, and computational modelling. Using the model organism E. coli and B. subtilis, the project will establish a novel method for determining and modulating cell physiological states of bacterial cells using Cytecom’s technology. These advancements will offer novel ways for diagnosis of microbial infections, enable classification of bacterial samples, and facilitate developments of antimicrobial compounds. Moreover, the ability to modulate the growth rates could offer a new engineering biology technique that can be combined with synthetic biology tools to control cellular activities in space and time to produce spatially-temporally organised bacterial communities.

 

The project outcomes are anticipated to expand the applications of the CyteCount machine into the fields of healthcare diagnostics and antimicrobial resistance.

 

Candidates are encouraged to contact Dr Munehiro Asally to discuss the project before applying if they wish to.

Contact: Dr Munehiro Asally, University of Warwick

Application

Deadline: 20 January 2023

To apply for a CASE studentship, please check your eligibility and complete the MIBTP application process.

Please ensure that you;

  • Apply directly to the Univeristy of Warwick.
  • Clearly state you are applying for a CASE project and stipulate the proejct title.