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Temperate bacteriophages and their puppeteering of bacterial cell physiology

Thursday 6 June 2019, 1.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr Darren Smith, Northumbria University

There is a current research focus on the diversity and functionality of microbial communities and how they play a role on both the establishment and progression of bacterial colonisation and disease. Current work in my lab focuses on temperate bacteriophages that integrate into the chromosome of their bacterial host and subvert cell function that may offer a selective advantage for the phage or bacterium. The genomes of lambdoid bacteriophages have a core, conserved architecture linked to their life-cycle where intergenic diversity may be high but gene function is conserved amongst these phages globally.

Outside of these core genes, temperate phages carry accessory or cargo genes usually located in the late gene region. This accessory function has been previously shown to offer the bacterium a selective advantage on conversion to a lysogen. We here illustrate using metagenomics and metabolomics that their influence and subversion of bacterial cell physiology may be greater than what was previously thought.

This presentation will focus on temperate bacteriophage from two bacterial backgrounds. The first is the temperate dsDNA phage of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa). Pa is an important opportunistic pathogen in respiratory disease especially cystic fibrosis (CF) and non-CF bronchiectasis (nCFBR). Once the lung becomes chronically colonised, it is frequently associated with poorer clinical outcomes.

Our current research illustrates altered phage-bacterial host interactions in the constrained environment of the lung in both CF and nCFBR over time and how different phages drive altered cell metabolism. The second area will focus on altered bacterial response to stress and how a Shigatoxin encoding bacteriophages modulate the cellular response of the bacterium that may give it a selective advantage both environmentally and when colonising the gut.

Location: Dianna Bowles Lecture Theatre (K018)