PhD ceremony: Ms. M.E. Merlo, 12.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Dissertation: Exploring the metabolism of Streptomyces coelicolor using mass spectrometry-based metabolomics
Promotor(s): prof. E. Takano, prof. R. Breitling, prof. L. Dijkhuizen
Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences
The scope of the thesis of Elena Merlo has been to explore the metabolism of a very special bacterium called Streptomyces coelicolor, a famous member of a large group of bacteria that produce antibiotics, which are used to treat such infectious diseases. Using high-performance analytical techniques, she assessed how these bacteria change their chemical composition (their so-called metabolome profile) in response to different stresses and environmental conditions. Merlo showed for the first time, that the metabolome profile can give valuable insights into how a microorganism rearranges its whole cellular system to adapt to challenging situations. As we know that antibiotics are preferentially produced in such circumstances (for example, to defend the bacterium), these results can now be used to create new designer microorganisms for the improved production of antibiotics.
Microorganisms play an important role in our lives: they are used in the large-scale preparation of bread, cheese, wine, beer, but also for producing many high-value chemical compounds such as drugs and biofuels. Moreover, huge numbers of bacteria and fungi grow in the human gut, where many of them help maintaining our health. At the same time, of course, microorganisms are responsible for widespread infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis.
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