FEMS Microbes Poster Prize: Svetlana Kozlova
The FEMS Conference on Microbiology (#FCOM22) took place on the 30rd June until the 2nd July in Belgrade, Serbia. With 450 posters on display the FEMS Microbes editorial board selected Svetlana’s poster titled “Using CRISPR-Cas interference-based model system to study bacterial addiction modules” as the best poster.
Read our interview with Svetlana about her research below:
What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?
I am a 1st year PhD student at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) in Moscow, Russia. Previously, I got a bachelor’s degree in microbiology at Lomonosov Moscow State University, where I studied marine symbioses, and then obtained my MSc degree at Skoltech. From the “classical” microbiologist I am growing up to the molecular microbiologist, and I believe my scientific journey is just beginning.”
Could you describe the research your poster covered?
My research is focused on the phenomenon called post-segregational killing (PSK) of plasmid-free cells. Briefly, when bacteria lose plasmids containing toxin-antitoxin (TA) or restriction-modification (RM) system, they can die due to the activity of remaining toxin molecules. Thus, such plasmids behave as “addiction modules”, i.e., show enhanced stability in the bacterial population. In this work, we used inducible CRISPR-Cas interference to eliminate plasmids containing various TA or RM modules from the E. coli cells. Applying this model at populational and single-cell levels, we demonstrate that in most cases tested plasmid stabilization is not mediated by the killing of plasmid-free cells. However, for three Type II RM systems, the role of the PSK in plasmid maintenance was confirmed, though the PSK effect was not even for different systems.”
What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?
During my doctoral school I want to dig deeper into the mechanisms of the PSK and answer several research questions, e.g. why don’t we see the PSK or observe reversal PSK for some systems; do the activity levels of TA or RM proteins affect the PSK; etc. Besides the main project, I am fascinated by the general biology of RM systems (their regulation, balance of R and M proteins, and bacteriophage defense).”
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