News & Events
Coordinating bacterial cell division with what they eat
Speaker(s): Dr Amy Bottomley, Senior Post-Doctoral Associate, i3 institute, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
When: 09 May 2017 (10:00 - 11:00am)
Where: SBS CR4 (Level 1)
Type: Seminars


Cell division, an essential process in bacteria, is driven by a cytoskeletal ring structure - the Z ring - composed of polymers of the tubulin-like protein FtsZ. Z ring formation must be tightly regulated to ensure faithful cell division. One important but as yet poorly understood aspect of cell division regulation is the need to coordinate division with cell growth and nutrient availability. Our lab has demonstrated for the first time that cell division is intimately linked to central carbon metabolism in the model Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. We show that pyruvate is a key metabolite in coordinating cell growth and division by regulating midcell Z ring formation. Our results support a model in which pyruvate levels are coupled to Z ring assembly via an enzyme that metabolizes pyruvate, the E1α subunit of pyruvate dehydrogenase. 

Current work focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of the link between central carbon metabolism and cell division in B. subtilis. We aim to identify whether pyruvate itself or any of the metabolites derived from pyruvate is involved in coordinating the division process with metabolic activity and nutrient levels. In addition to answering the fundamental biology questions, this study aims to uncover a new area that can be exploited for the development of antimicrobial agents.


Dr Amy Bottomley obtained her B.Sc (Hons) in microbiology in 2007, before undertaking her PhD studies under the supervision of Prof. Simon Foster at the University of Sheffield, UK. During her PhD she studied the bacterial cell division process in Staphylococcus aureus, the causative agent of ‘golden staph’ infections. After being awarded her PhD in 2011, she continued in Sheffield as a Post-Doctoral Researcher to develop methods for super resolution fluorescence microscopy to study bacterial cell division proteins. In May 2012, she joined the research group of Prof. Liz Harry at the i3 institute, University of Technology Sydney. Her research involves understanding bacterial cell division and how it is regulated in response to a variety of environmental cues, including during infection and in response to nutrient availability.