Biological Sciences

Events and seminars

Monday Seminar Series - "Regulation during bacterial growth arrest"

Dr Megan Bergkessel, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee

23rd January 2023 at 12:00pm [Download iCalendar / .ics file]


Bacteria in natural environments spend very little time dividing exponentially at their maximum rates before they have depleted at least one essential nutrient. Once this happens, growth-arrested or very slow-growing states must be adopted until new nutrients appear. Under these conditions, some new proteins must still be made to repair damage and respond to environmental challenges, but the regulatory strategy must mitigate the challenges and risks of activating biosynthetic pathways when energy and substrates are severely limiting. In addition to dealing with the challenges of energy and substrate limitation, bacteria also store non-limiting nutrients in preparation for changes in nutrient availability. We are exploring this topic using the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a model organism. We have identified a novel transcriptional regulator specific to slow-growing states, and we are working toward understanding how its activities are integrated with cellular metabolism and other regulators expressed during growth arrest. Preliminary data suggest that per-cell activity levels in a growth-arrested population are heterogeneous and dynamic over time, motivating further exploration to understand the regulation of those dynamics.

A major motivation for studying the regulation of growth arrested states is the observation by many microbiologists that low levels of metabolic activity in bacteria are associated with increased tolerance of many clinically relevant antibiotics. We are also beginning to investigate how the regulatory mechanisms that are active during growth arrest modulate antibiotic tolerance. Our long-term goal is to learn how we might leverage new understanding of growth arrest regulation to design better strategies for targeting growth arrested bacteria with antimicrobial compounds.

Host Teuta Pilizota, ICB

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