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Molecular Microbiology

TEM of Bacillus megaterium sporeResearch Overview

The 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 anthracis, Clostridium 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.

Enquiries concerning post-graduate research opportunities, industrial collaborations, or general information concerning the group's activities, should be directed to .

Group members

Graham Christie; David Bailey; David Baynard; Abhinaba Ghosh; Manja Neumann; Amin Mustafa; Sina Schack; Yao Xiao

Past members

Işık Üstok; Julia Manetsberger; Srishti Gupta; Nilumi Withange; Richard Langford; Mohamed Y. Mohamed; Iris Batalha; Bahja Al-Riyami; Ke Xu Zhou; Henry Lin;

Select papers

Xu Zhou, K., Wisnivesky, F., Ian Wilson, D., and Christie, G. (2017); Effects of culture conditions on the size, morphology and wet density of spores of Bacillus cereus 569 and Bacillus megaterium QM B1551. Letters in applied microbiology 65, 50-56


Batalha IL, Ke P, Tejeda-Montes E, Uddin S, van der Walle CF, Christie G. (2017). Dipicolinic acid as a novel spore-inspired excipient for antibody formulation. Int J Pharm 526, 332-338.


Al-Riyami B, Ustok FI, Stott K, Chirgadze DY, and Christie G. (2016)The crystal structure of Clostridium perfringens SleM, a muramidase involved in cortical hydrolysis during spore germination. Proteins 84, 1681-1689.


Manetsberger, J., Manton, J. D., Erdelyi, M. J., Lin, H., Rees, D., Christie, G., and Rees, E. J. (2015); Ellipsoid Localization Microscopy Infers the Size and Order of Protein Layers in Bacillus Spore Coats. Biophys J 109, 2058-2066