Tanmay Bharat

Structural cell biology of bacterial biofilm formation

The majority of bacteria on earth do not exist as single isolated cells but rather form macroscopic, surface-attached, multi-cellular communities known as biofilms. Bacterial biofilms play a role in many diseases and infectious processes like cystic fibrosis and urinary tract infections. Biofilms may also form on abiotic surfaces provided by clinical devices including implants and catheters. Furthermore, bacterial cells in a biofilm community are highly tolerant to antibiotic treatment. Understanding this fundamental bacterial developmental process is therefore critical to understand the colonization process of pathogenic bacteria.

The goal of the lab is to use structural biology techniques, coupled with high-resolution imaging to study general principles governing bacterial biofilm formation. We will use electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) and tomography (cryo-ET) to resolve structures of molecules that mediate biofilm formation. Correlated light and electron microscopy (CLEM) coupled with mass spectrometry (MS) will be used to support our investigations. We will combine in vitro reconstitution of key molecules with in vivo imaging to understand how bacteria form biofilms.

Biochemists, microbiologists, structural biologists or natural scientists interested in our work should contact Tanmay Bharat (tbharat@mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk). Post-doctoral, DPhil and short-term projects are available in the lab.

Tanmay Bharat will be joining the Dunn School in Summer 2017. For a full publication list click here

Relevant Publications

Bharat, T. A., Murshudov, G. N., Sachse, C., and Löwe, J.

Nature 523, 106-110

Bharat, T. A., Russo, C. J., Löwe, J., Passmore, L. A., and Scheres, S. H.

Structure 23, 1743-1753

Bharat, T. A., Castillo Menendez, L. R., Hagen, W. J., Lux, V., Igonet, S., Schorb, M., Schur, F. K., Kräusslich, H. G., and Briggs, J. A.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111, 8233-8238

Bharat, T. A., Davey, N. E., Ulbrich, P., Riches, J. D., de Marco, A., Rumlova, M., Sachse, C., Ruml, T., and Briggs, J. A.

Nature 487, 385-389