We were recently awarded a 3-year $900K grant from the Marsden Fund: The Stuff Memories Are Made Of: How Bacteria Remember and Learn from Environmental Signals. The grant includes three fully funded PhD positions. Please contact me if you are interested.
The 150-word (well, 149-word) summary:
Bacterial growth rates and death rates depend critically on the way that they respond to changes in environmental conditions. For example, they may employ different stress responses to survive antibiotic treatment. Similar to many other organisms, previous environmental conditions can affect how bacteria behave in the future. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as memory: when previous experiences affect future behaviour. However, in bacteria, the effects and mechanisms of memory are not well understood. Here we propose quantitatively measuring the effects of bacterial memory on growth and survival, using a wide range of approaches to understand when memories are formed, and what affects the length of time they are maintained. In many cases, we expect that memories will be mediated by epigenetic modifications to DNA. We will use cutting-edge techniques to quantify such modifications on a genome-wide level in single cells. Together, this work will give us novel insight into the effects and mechanisms of memory in bacterial cells.