Function of the Bacterial Cell


Bacteria have been optimised by the power of evolution into elegant and precise molecular machines. Despite their simplicity and minute size, they are the fastest growing, the most ecologically diverse and the most rapidly evolving organisms known. In this module you will learn about the inner workings of the remarkable bacterial cell - e.g. how bacteria interchange their genes, how they protect and repair their chromosomes, how they sense and react to their environment, and how they engage in cooperative behaviour. You will discover what bacteria can teach us about the fundamental processes of Life.

Autumn Term



Professor Simon Andrews is the head of the Biomedical Sciences section of the School of Biological Sciences and the module convenor for the the Function of the Bacterial Cell module. He is a microbiologist interested in iron regulation in bacteria. In animals (including humans), iron withdrawal is used as a highly-effective defence strategy to inhibit growth of invading microbes within the body. For this reason, pathogens deploy iron-acquisition systems that target body-iron sources. Such host-specific iron-uptake systems are 'virulence factors' that are often required for effective host colonisation and disease progression. Because of the importance of iron acquisition processes to pathogens, much research is directed towards understanding microbial iron transport in the hope of developing effective countermeasures that could be used to combat infection.

MacIntyreSheila_largeDr Sheila MacIntyre is Programme advisor for the Microbiology degree programme. She obtained a BSc in Microbiology at the University of Glasgow and her PhD at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada, where she started her career studying toxins secreted by bacterial pathogens. She continued her training at Trinity College, Dublin and the Max-Planck-Institute for Biology in Germany before taking up a position as lecturer at Reading University. Her laboratory currently focuses on the cell surfaces of Gram negative bacteria and ways in which bacteria secrete toxins and other factors involved in disease. By understanding how bacteria, such as Yersinia pestis, assemble surface structures, we provide important information to improve vaccines and design new anti-bacterial agents.

JacksonRob_largeProfessor Rob Jackson is a microbiologist interested in bacteria-plant interactions. He did his PhD at UWE, Bristol on bacterial plasmids and pathogenicity. He worked at the Universities of Oxford, Auckland and Bath before moving to Reading. He is the Admissions Tutor for the BSc Microbiology degree. His main area of expertise lies in bacterial genetics to understand how plant pathogens cause disease and survive within the environment and how biocontrol bacteria likePseudomonas fluorescens promote plant growth. Rob is also interested in how human pathogens, such as Escherichia coli O157, can colonise plants - this is a major issue for food poisoning and dissemination of the bacteria within the environment.

Other lecturers teaching in this module include Dr Simon Clarke

Module convenor: Professor Simon Andrews

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