skip to content

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge


Our  Molecular Microbiology group study bacterial spores of the Bacillus and Clostridium genera, which are the most resilient cells observed in nature. Several species are notable human and animal pathogens, including Bacillus anthracisClostridium botulinum and Clostridium difficile, although most are harmless saprophytes.

We are particularly interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of spore germination, which dormant spores undergo when stimulated to return to the vegetative state. We are also interested in the composition and assembly of the spore coat and exosporium, and aim to define the structures and functions of the various proteins that form this primary protective barrier.

We use a range of approaches to gain insight to spore biology at the molecular level, including genetic, biochemical, crystallographic and advanced imaging techniques.

Overall, our objective is to consider fundamental insights to spore structure and physiology in the context of public health, food safety, counter-terrorism and environmental decontamination, and to determine how such information might then be applied to improve current capabilities in these sectors.




Key publications: 

stok FI, Chirgadze DY, Christie G. 2015. Crystal structure of the PepSY-containing domain of the YpeB protein involved in germination of Bacillus spores. Proteins 83:1914-1921.

2.         Ustok FI, Chirgadze DY, Christie G. 2015. Structural and functional analysis of SleL, a peptidoglycan lysin involved in germination of Bacillus spores. Proteins 83:1787-1799.

3.         Manetsberger J, Manton JD, Erdelyi MJ, Lin H, Rees D, Christie G, Rees EJ. 2015. Ellipsoid Localization Microscopy Infers the Size and Order of Protein Layers in Bacillus Spore Coats. Biophys J 109:2058-2066.

4.         Manetsberger J, Hall EA, Christie G. 2015. Plasmid-encoded genes influence exosporium assembly and morphology in Bacillus megaterium QM B1551 spores. FEMS microbiology letters 362.

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
Bacterial spore structure and germination; structural biology (protein crystallography); coronavirus testing and inactivation
We study bacterial spores (e.g. Bacillus and Clostridium), with a focus on their assembly, structure, and germination.
Dr Graham   Christie
Not available for consultancy


Collaborator profiles: 
Departments and institutes: 
Person keywords: 
Molecular Biology
Vaccine development
Structural Biology