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Understanding genome dynamics in the multiple antibiotic resistant ESKAPE pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii

Principal Supervisor: Professor David Grainger

Secondary Supervisor(s): Dr Manuel Banzhaf

University of Registration: University of Birmingham

BBSRC Research Themes:

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Deadline: 4 January, 2024


Project Outline

The “ESKAPE” pathogens, which evade most antibiotics, are a small group of bacteria, identified by the WHO in 2017, as presenting the greatest risk to global human health. Amongst these organisms, Acinetobacter baumannii, has been identified as the number one priority. The microbe thrives in hospitals, resists most antibiotics, and frequently rearranges its genome. In the latter respect, mobile DNA elements (particularly transposons) are a key driver of genome plasticity. How this relates to the organism’s success is unknown. We have developed a new genomic method to track genome rearrangements across entire A. baumannii populations and we are using this to understand how chromosomal changes give the organism an advantage in hospital settings (e.g. by better resisting antibiotics or causing more infections).

You will use a combination of genomic, genetic, molecular and biochemical tools. These will be applied to our current laboratory isolates of A. baumannii, and new isolates that we obtain from infected patients at the nearby Queen Elizabeth hospital. The ultimate goal is to understand the mechanisms by which genome rearrangements allow the bacterium to better infect the human host and persist in hospital environments.

References

Mea HJ, Yong PVC, Wong EH (2021) An overview of Acinetobacter baumannii pathogenesis: Motility, adherence and biofilm formation. Microbiol Res. 247:126722

Techniques

Protein purification, Chromatin Immunoprecipitation, Illuminia Sequencing and associated bioinformatics, PCR, Radioisotopes, Microscopy, In vitro DNA binding assays, Reporter assays, Microbial cell culture, mutagenesis, drug uptake assays, antibiotic sensitivity assays, chemical genomics