This project focuses on the intricate interactions between bacteria and the viruses that infect them, called phages. An important aspect of this is the detailed examination of defences such as restriction–modification or CRISPR–Cas systems and how phages can counteract them.
A main aim of Nils’ work in this pou is the identification and characterization of novel defence systems in a large collection of strains from the Pectobacterium genus, which are known to cause significant agricultural losses. Further research relates to molecules termed bacteriocins which are secreted by these bacteria to kill and outcompete other bacteria in the environment.
Overall, this research advances our fundamental understanding of bacterial immunity and inter-strain competition. This will help explore innovative approaches for disease management and agricultural sustainability.
Why This Matters
Findings from this research have potential implications for developing treatments for human and plant diseases. For example, the utilisation of phages as a potential solution for pest control in agriculture could be very useful, particularly in countries like Aotearoa New Zealand that are heavily reliant on agriculture.
- Screening of a large Pectobacterium strain collection for defence systems targeting phages.
- Characterisation of any newly identified defence systems.
- Characterisation of bacteriocins produced by Pectobacterium strains, including their potential suitability as antimicrobial agents.