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Bacterial stress responses

Our research can be divided into three main areas covering different types of stress. You can read a general presentation below covering all these areas. They are presented in detail on three separate pages.

Collage illustration and microphotographs of bacteria

Just like human beings, bacteria have to deal with continuous stress. However, stress for bacteria is different from the stress humans are used to - it causes damage to the cellular macromolecules: membranes, proteins and nucleic acids. It can be chemical stress, caused by toxic and harmful compounds, or physical stress, for example heat. A limited supply of nutrients can also be regarded as stress. Bacteria have developed stress responses, which aim to temporarily increase tolerance limits. These stress responses are often very specific, each specialized for a particular kind of stress. Some stress responses facilitate bacterial transition from a free-living organism to a host-invading pathogen. Bacterial adaptive responses include development of spores and competence, activation of motility, synthesis of antibiotics and proteases, and changes in energy production systems. Fine tuning of respiratory electron transfer routes and energy coupling mechanisms play important roles in the ability of bacteria to cope with variations in oxygen and nutrient supply. We investigate how single celled organisms adapt to different types of stress, using the soil-living bacterium Bacillus subtilis as the principal model organism. These responses are studied at different levels that include protein-protein, protein-environment, and protein-DNA interactions.

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