PhD project: Evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacterial colonies

Project description

One of the factors that affects how microbes evolve resistance to antibiotics in their natural environment are mechanical cell-cell and cell-surface interactions. Although still underappreciated by biologists, such interactions have been shown to play a huge role in determining the growth of microbial colonies [1,2]. This project will have three aims: (i) to understand how physical properties (stiffness, adhesion, etc.) of individual bacteria affect how these cells interact in a colony, (ii) to find out how these properties affect the rate at which resistant mutations fix in the population of bacteria, and (iii) to try to change these properties to reduce the risk of resistance evolution.

The project will be mostly experimental but it may also involve a modelling component (computer simulations), and a collaboration with Edinburgh researchers Rosalind Allen and Davide Marenduzzo. Prior knowledge of microbiology is not required but a strong motivation for interdisciplinary work is desired.

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