• United Kingdom

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PhD projects

Functional characterisation of cell wall deacetylases in Corynebacterium diphtheriae<br/><br/>Modification of the bacterial cell wall is one of the most fundamental processes that bacteria use to adapt and to survive in changing environmental conditions. The ability to modify the bacterial cell wall, which is a essential component of the bacterial cell envelope, through modification and decoration is a key adaptation that bacteria use to avoid host defences (such as hydrolytic enzymes) and enhance survival in host cells. These modifications can be highly complicated such as the covalent and non-covalent attachment of proteins, lipids and polysaccharides. Important human pathogens such as Corynebacterium and Mycobacterium have taken cell wall decoration to extraordinary levels with the attachment of highly specialised mycolic acids, arabinomannan, glycolipids and proteins, which have been relatively well studied in these organisms (sometimes referred to as the Mycolata). Some of these components, such as the mycolic acids are vital components and are essential for pathogenicity and in some cases viability. Other modifications of cell wall polymers such as N-deacetylations have received relatively little attention. It is these that will be the focus of this project, where will investigate the role of cell wall deacetylases in the growth and pathogenicity of Corynebacterium diphtheriae. We will also investigate the enzymology of the C. diphtheriae enzyme to elucidate its substrate and co-factor specificity.

Personal profile

Personal Statement

Laboratory webpage is here http://paulhoskisson.weebly.com

Research in my group is focussed on the synthesis of antibiotics and the evolution of bacterial pathogens, using a range of techniques from molecular biology and biochemistry through to mathematical modelling and image analysis. The bacterial genus Streptomyces is the main focus of work in my Research Group due to its industrial importance, being responsible for producing around two thirds of all commercially important antibiotics as well as numerous anti-fungal, anti-helminthic and anti-cancer drugs. 

We also have an interest in evolution of metabolism, evolution of bacterial pathogens, genomics of actinobacteria and the exploitation of amphibian proteins for biotechnology. 

We use a range of techniques to study the biology of actinobacteria including molecular genetics, protein biochemistry, genomics, microscopy, physiology, advanced spectroscopy, mathematical modeling and bioinformatics.

I was elected as a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland in 2014 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB) in 2016.

I am a member of the Microbiology Society, the American Society of Microbiology, the Biochemical Society, The Royal Society of Biology and British Herpetological Society.

I am a managing editor for Antonie van Leeuwenhoek International Journal of Microbiology, and sit on the editorial board for Microbial Genomics, Frontiers in Antimicrobials, resistance and chemotherapy, Frontiers in Microbial Physiology and Metabolism, Frontiers in Synthetic Biology and Metabolism and Nature Scientific Data and Nature Scientific Reports.I am a former Editor in Chief of Microbiology Today.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I am interested in the use of Social media for communication of science and you can follow on Twitter @paulhoskisson

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


  • Microbiology; biochemistry; molecular biology; Streptomyces; Corynebacterium


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