Predatory bacterial cleaning of filtration membranes
University of Glasgow
Prof.William Sloan/ Dr. Stephanie Connelly
My undergraduate degree was at Keele University in Biology and Biochemistry. During this I undertook placements at the vector biology group in Wageningen University and at the mosquito rearing team of the International centre of insect physiology and ecology (ICIPE) in Mbita, Kenya. For my final year project at Keele I used the data collected during the two placements to compare the quality and quantity of malaria mosquitoes produced in a European vs an African rearing facility.
Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I moved to Scotland to take a MSc in Infection biology at the University of Glasgow, focusing on the study of bacteria, viruses and parasites. My final research project aimed to characterise and validate the phosphodiesterases of Schistosoma as drug targets in the pathogen. This was part of a large EU consortium on developing new inhibitors of cAMP phosphodiesterases as anti-parasite drugs namely in African Trypanasomes and Schitstomes.
Throughout my time at University, I have explored the different ways organisms can interact with each other in biology. I am most interested in antagonistic interactions (such as with parasites, pathogens or predators) and how these interactions can be investigated for the betterment of human and environmental health. This has lead me to my current project at the University of Glasgow, which is focused on predatory bacteria.
Predatory bacteria are taxonomically disparate and specialized bacteria that kill and feed on other live bacterial cells, exhibiting diverse predatory strategies. Recently, there has been increased interest by researchers in the potential application of predatory bacteria as biological alternatives in a variety of industrial and clinical fields. However, there is a limited understanding of the predator life cycle and the impact of their predation on prey bacterial processes and mortality. This greatly impairs our ability to optimise their use in biological treatment.
Thus, my project will investigate the dynamics between Bdellovibrio predators and their prey and use an engineering approach to exploit the dynamics for the use of predatory bacteria in a water treatment application. The project will mostly use microfluidics, which is an interdisciplinary technology that offers a novel and more reliable method of assessing the interactions between predator and prey, in contrast to traditional culturing methods such as shaking flasks which do not resemble bacteria's natural environment.