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Multicellularity and motility in filamentous cyanobacteria

Principal Supervisor: Prof Orkun Soyer

Co-supervisor: Marco Polin

PhD project title: Multicellularity and motility in filamentous cyanobacteria

University of Registration: University of Warwick

Project outline:

Cyanobacteria are the key photosynthetic species contributing to carbon and nitrogen fixation at a global scale. A common feature among cyanobacteria is the filamentous morphotype, where multiple cells form a single filament enclosed by a mucus sheath. Filamentous cyanobacteria readily form aggregates in the open ocean and freshwater environments, resulting in macro-scale structures. Both the individual filament, and these higher structures are examples for microbial multi-cellular systems.

We have identified a specific filamentous cyanobacteria that is capable of gliding motility and formation of extensive macro-scale structures. These macro-scale structures, composed of millions of filaments, display also a form of motility that we do not fully understand the mechanisms of. We are currently analysing the molecular basis of micro-motility (filament level) and its relation to macro-motility (aggregate level).

In this project, you will decipher the basis of multi-cellular coordination in filamentous cyanobacteria. Using our current isolate, you will develop genetic markers and microscopy-based analysis methods to understand how individual filaments coordinate and communicate to create multi-cellular behaviours. Ideal candidates should have an interest in biophysical and biomolecular approaches.





BBSRC Strategic Research Priority: Understanding the rules of life Systems Biology, Stem Cells, and Microbiology, Renewable Resources and Clean Growth - Industrial Biotechnology, and Bio-Energy, and Integrated Understanding of Health - Pharmaceuticals.


Techniques that will be undertaken during the project:

Fluorescence microscopy, genetic markers, macro-micro imaging, microsensors.

Contact: Prof Orkun Soyer