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An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge


Group Leader

Bacterial quorum sensing 

Our research involves multiple aspects of molecular microbiology including quorum sensing (QS)virulence in bacterial pathogens, regulation and biosynthesis of antibiotics and other secondary metabolites, protein secretion systems, gas vesiclesand flotation, bacteriophages, toxin-antitoxin systems and anti-viral abortive infection. We work on various Gram-negative enterobacteria, including the phytopathogens, Erwinia (Pectobacterium) and DickeyaSerratia species (which can be opportunistic human pathogens) Citrobacter rodentium (the murine pathogen), Yersiniaand a spectrum of phages infecting bacteria of medical, agricultural or industrial biotechnology interest (including Pseudomonas and Streptomyces).

We study the phenomenon of quorum sensing in which bacteria make small diffusible molecules (N-acyl homoserine lactones) as chemical communication signals reflecting cell population density status. 

Lab members & Visitors: Rita Monson, Nathalie Goeders, Sarah Barker, Alison Rawlinson, Chin Mei Lee, Bihe Chen, Ray Chai, Alex Quintero, Andy Day, Megan Booth, Ziyue ZengSamuel MagazinerAnnabel Murphy,  Maxime Couturier, Joseph Honger, Amalia Soenens Martinez De Murguia  



Key publications: 

1. Rao, F., et al  (2015) Co-evolution of quaternary organization and novel RNA tertiary interactions revealed in the crystal structure of a bacterial protein-RNA toxin-antitoxin system. Nucleic Acids Research, doi: 10.1093/nar/gkv868

2. Matilla, M., et al (2014) Viunalikeviruses are environmentally common agents of horizontal gene transfer in pathogens and biocontrol bacteria. ISME Journal. doi:10.1038/ismej.2014.150

3. Short, F. et al (2013) Selectivity and self-assembly in the control of a bacterial toxin by an antitoxic noncoding RNA pseudoknot. PNAS, 110 (3) E241–E249. First on-line December 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1216039110

4. Blower, TR., et al (2012) Viral evasion of a bacterial altruistic suicide system through RNA-based molecular mimicry enables infectious altruism. PloS Genetics, 8(10): e1003023. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003023

5. Matilla, MA et al (2012) Bacterial gene clusters encoding the anti-cancer haterumalide class of molecules: biogenesis of the broad spectrum antifungal and anti-oomycete compound, oocydin A. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287: 39125-39138

Department of Biochemistry
Bacterial Quorum sensing and virulence, regulation and biosynthesis of carbapenem antibiotics and prodigiosin, protein secretion systems, viral abortive infection systems and bacteriophages of plant and animal pathogens.
Professor George  Salmond
Not available for consultancy


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