Deciphering the Molecular Mechanisms of bacterial growth

Determining how cells grow and divide is a fundamental goal of biology. However, these processes remain poorly understood even in the simplest of cells. In bacteria, growth and division are intimately linked to the construction of the cell wall layer that surrounds these cells. Thus, the key to understanding bacterial morphogenesis lies in defining the mechanisms underlying cell surface assembly. Elucidation of these pathways has significant consequences for human health because cell wall biogenesis is the target for many of our oldest and most successful antibiotics, including penicillin and related beta-lactam drugs. Emerging resistant infections are unfortunately eroding the efficacy of these and other antibiotics. It is therefore now more important than ever to understand the molecular details of bacterial growth in order to find new and effective methods of blocking it for the treatment of disease. To gain new insight in this area, we combine classic and modern genetic approaches with cell imaging and biochemical analysis in a range of model and pathogenic bacteria (Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Corynebacterium glutamicum).