How the bacterial protective shell is adapted to challenging environments

Illustration JACS Publication Cavalab[2016-07-07] Researchers at Umeå University in Sweden have published new findings on the adaptation of the bacterial cell wall in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The study reveals novel bacterial defence mechanisms against the immune system and how they can become resistant to antibiotics.

Bacteria are surrounded by a mesh-like structure which, similar to an external skeleton, defines the cell shape and provides protection against external attacks. This remarkable polymer cell wall called peptidoglycan, given its basic composition of sugars and amino acids, is well known for being a major target of beta-lactam antibiotics such as Penicillin.

Despite this structure having been the focus of extensive investigations on the long-lasting battle against bacterial pathogens (i.e. bacteria that cause infectious diseases), there is currently little understanding of its natural variability and the consequences of such changes on the ability of bacteria to adapt and survive in a threatening environment.

Read more: How the bacterial protective shell is adapted to challenging environments

Gene amplification – the fast track to infection

Wang et al Science[2016-06-30] Researchers at Umeå University are first to discover that bacteria can multiply disease-inducing genes which are needed to rapidly cause infection. The results were published in Science on 30 June 2016.

More than 22 years ago, researchers at Umeå University were first to discover an infection strategy of human pathogenic Yersinia bacteria – a protein structure in bacterial cell-walls that resembled a syringe. The structure, named “Type III secretion system” or T3SS, makes it possible to transfer bacterial proteins into the host cell and destroy its metabolism.

After the discovery, researchers have found T3SS in several other bacteria species and T3SS has proven to be a common infection mechanism that pathogens, i.e. an infectious agent such as a virus or bacterium, use to destroy host cells. Now, Umeå researchers are again first to find a link between infection and rapid production of the essential proteins needed to form “the poisonous syringe”.

Read more: Gene amplification – the fast track to infection

Andrea Puhar new MIMS group leader

Andrea Puhar MIMS GL[2015-05-15] MIMS welcomes Andrea Puhar who is establishing her research group from May 2015 at the Department of Molecular Biology.
Andrea has during the previous years performed postdoctoral research at Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. Before her arrival in Umeå, she spent some months as a visiting scientist in the Department of Gastroenterology, RWTH University, Aachen, Germany.

Within the next months Andrea Puhar will recruit PhD students, master students and postdocs to her new lab. Interested persons are highly welcome to send a letter of interest with CV and motivation letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more: Andrea Puhar new MIMS group leader

Swedish Research Council mid-term evaluation: Funding of Linnaeus Centre extended

Umeå's infection research receives continued Linnaeus Centre funding with 45 million SEK during the second five-year period

Umeå University's successful infection research at Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR) will continue to receive Linnaeus Centre funding from the Swedish Research Council. This means continued funding with nine million SEK per year over a period of five years.

The Swedish Research Council and Formas has now completed the mid-term evaluation of the 20 Linnaeus environments, which received funding in 2008. One of these environments is the Umeå Centre for Microbial Research, UCMR.

Read more: Swedish Research Council mid-term evaluation: Funding of Linnaeus Centre extended

MIMS/UCMR Mini Symposium 10 June 2014

Welcome to the MIMS/UCMR Mini Symposium 2014!

10 June 2014,  8.30- 10.50

Lecture hall Lilla hörsalen KB3A9 at KBC

Speakers:

  • UCMR Young Group Leaders - Gender support programme
  • New MIMS/UCMR Group Leaders - Wallenberg Academy Fellows
  • Assistant Professor Group Leaders at UCMR

Read more: MIMS/UCMR Mini Symposium 10 June 2014

Anna Överby receives grant for Future Research Leaders by SSF

Anna Överby, since 2011 group leader at MiMS is the only researcher at Umeå University who will receive the Future's Research Leaders grant from the Foundation for Strategic Research ("Framtidens Forskningsledare, Stiftelsen för Strategisk Forskning"). She is one of 20 other young outstanding scientists who will receive 10 million SEK each. Anna Överby is the only scientist at Umeå University who was selected. Before her the MIMS group leaders Richard Lundmark, Andrei Chabes, and Niklas Arnberg received the generous grant.

More information:
Webpage of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research SSF

Webpage of Anna Överby's research group

Press release of Umeå University (in Swedish only)

Swedish Research Council (VR) decision: Seven MIMS/UCMR group leaders receive funds

This year's funding decision of the Swedish Research Council gives support to 7 MIMS group leaders with more than 20 Mio SEK.
Felipe Cava will receive, SEK 8.5 Mio , which is the highest single fund to a scientist at Umeå University.

In total the funding is very impressive for the infection biology research at Umeå Centre for Microbial Research UCMR and MIMS which receive 29% of the total funding of the University by the Swedish Research Council.

Press release by Umeå University (in Swedish only - including the list of the funded projects)

Press release and analysis by the Swedish Research Council (in Swedish only)

Bernt Eric Uhlin receives funding for Field Emission Scanning-EM and Cryo-technology

UCEM logo posIn its latest decision on research infrastructures, the Swedish Research Council assigned an operation grant with SEK 4.7 Mio for 2014-2018 to the national FESEM resource for training and research in using high resolution Field Emission Scanning-EM and Cryo-technology.

The newly established national FESEM resource at the Chemical Biological Centre in collaboration with MIMS and UCMR is providing a high resolution Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope with a cryo-SEM system for life science and materials research. In particular, scientists within the Swedish National Network for Infection Biology from all major universities; Umeå University, Uppsala University, Stockholm University, Karolinska Institute, Linköping University, Göteborg University, Lund University, are aiming to strengthen the infection biology research in the country by this joint infrastructure.

Read more: Bernt Eric Uhlin receives funding for Field Emission Scanning-EM and Cryo-technology

Antibiotics may trigger bacterial resistance against immune defences - Sun Nynt Wai and colleagues publish in PLOS Pathogens

TEM_of_Vibrio_cell_small_SNW
For the first time, scientists at Umeå University show how bacterial resistance to antimicrobial peptides in the immune defence may develop as the result of treatment with an antibiotic substance.


The rapid emergence antimicrobial resistance among pathogenic is a big medical and scientific challenge of our time. There is a need for development of new treatment strategies and such efforts require that the molecular mechanisms of bacterial resistance are understood.

Read more: Antibiotics may trigger bacterial resistance against immune defences - Sun Nynt Wai and colleagues...

The UCMR Research School has received 1 million SEK in additional funding

The research school has received 1 million SEK in additional funding from the Swedish Research Council. This additional grant is for development of a National Network in the area of Infection and Antibiotics and to promote training of PhD students and postdocs within the network.

Read more: The UCMR Research School has received 1 million SEK in additional funding