FEMS Microbiology Letters best flash presentation prize: David Mark

We send our congratulations to David Mark, who won the best flash presentation prize at the Molecular Microbial Ecology Group meeting. This prize is sponsored by our journal FEMS Microbiology Letters.

The Molecular Microbial Ecology Group meeting (MMEG) took place on 1-2 December 2022 in Glasgow.

Read our interview with David about his research below:


What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?

I’m currently finishing my PhD at the University of Strathclyde under Dr Paul Herron, investigating how specialized metabolism has evolved in rare actinomycetes. I started this project in October 2018, after completing a BSc (Hons) in Immunology and Microbiology – also at Strathclyde!”

David Mark (right) and Amy Thorpe (left)
Could you describe the research your presentation covered?

We know that actinomycetes are extremely talented producers of antibiotics and other useful small molecules, but we’re still getting a handle on why they produce so many molecules. The research I presented focuses on investigating why some biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) responsible for the production of these antibiotics get conserved through evolutionary history and some don’t. As it turns out, proximity to the chromosomal origin of replication is a pretty good predictor for a BGC being conserved throughout a genus, with BGCs that occupy a chromosomal locus far away from the origin of replication being consistently less conserved. This raises the question – what is it about these BGCs that is driving their fixation into the chromosome where other ones are rapidly turned over? I think it’s super interesting to think about.”


What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?

I’m about to start a Postdoc position with Prof Andy Roe at the University of Glasgow, working on protein secretion in E. coli. That’s going to be an interesting change of field. I’d quite like to do more work on actinomycetes in the future, but to be honest cool microbiology is cool microbiology and I won’t complain about getting to work on it.”


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