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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Bacterial Machines in Action

Research conference supported by the Microbiology Society UK

Dates: Monday 24th June and Tuesday 25th June 2024

Where: Skeel Lecture Theatre, Mile End Campus, Queen Mary University of London

How to find us:


This Research Conference is supported by Microbiology Society UK.


A suite of sophisticated molecular machines drives virtually all essential cell functions of bacteria - from fundamental processes such as DNA replication and gene expression to highly specialised multi-component systems required for the interaction of bacteria with their environment. Identifying individual machine parts and understanding how they act together is key to recognising major events during the successful colonisation of ecological niches by bacteria and to harnessing their enzymatic capacity for manufacturing biotechnological commodities.

The complex architecture and highly dynamic nature of these molecular machines requires a coordinated cross-disciplinary approach. To promote such an approach, we would like to bring together leading researchers in the field and provide the audience with a comprehensive and timely insight into the actions of bacterial machines. We thereby aim to integrate structural, functional, physiological and applied research across a diverse range of biological processes.

The conference sessions will highlight bacterial machines that are involved in (i) gene expression, (ii) cell cycle progression & morphogenesis, (iii) biological interactions and (iv) the response to light. We will also showcase how current knowledge in these areas is used to design molecular machines with novel enzymatic functions. We hope this conference will serve as a platform for our audience that enables the exchange of ideas and knowledge, and the creation of new networks for future collaborative, multi-disciplinary research.

Conference Programme [PDF 485KB]

Abstract Submissions

Exciting poster prize sponsored by iScience

You are welcome to submit an abstract (maximum of 250 words) if you wish to give an offered talk or present a poster at this conference. Please indicate the topic of your abstract according to the list below. ECRs we are eager to hear from you and your exciting science.

Abstract submissions have now closed. Abstracts will be reviewed by the session organisers once submission is closed. You will be notified of the outcome by the end of May 2024. By submitting an abstract to this conference, you are indicating to the session organisers your commitment to attend the event. Accepted abstracts will be published in the abstract book for the conference.

All abstracts should be submitted to Dr Christoph Engl (

Abstracts are welcome for any of the following topics:

  • Bacterial Gene Expression Machinery
  • Bacterial Cell Cycle & Morphogenesis Machinery
  • Machinery for Biological Interactions of Bacteria
  • Light-responsive Bacterial Machines
  • Engineering Bacterial Machines



Prof Ben Luisi

Prof Ben Luisi (University of Cambridge, UK) studies multi-component assemblies involved in the regulation of gene expression through controlling the fate of messenger RNA. His lab recently revealed polymorphic higher order assemblies of RNA chaperone Hfq on different target mRNAs during carbon catabolite repression (Dendooven et al. 2023, EMBO J).

Prof Heath Murray

Prof Heath Murray (Newcastle University, UK) studies the initiation of bacterial DNA replication using a combination of genetics, molecular cell biology and biochemistry. He has recently identified a novel mechanism of helicase loading at replication origins of the bacterial chromosome (Winterhalter et al. 2023, Nucleic Acids Research).

Dr Christine Kaimer

Dr Christine Kaimer (Ruhr University Bochum, Germany) investigates contact-dependent predation of the social soil bacterium Myxococcus xanthus and recently discovered a functional interplay of two secretion systems for killing and lysis of bacterial cells (Thiery et al. 2022, Cell Reports).

Dr Gregor Weiss

Dr Gregg Weiss is member of the research group of Prof Martin Pilhofer (ETH Zurich, Switzerland) and studies macromolecular machines that enable bacterial cell-cell interactions. Dr Weiss recently characterised the structure of a thylakoid-anchored contractile injection system in multicellular cyanobacteria (Weiss et al. 2022, Nature Microbiology).

Dr Sarah Barry

Dr Sarah Barry (KCL, UK) will discuss how to exploit the structure – function relationship of bacterial enzymes for the discovery of novel bioactive compounds and biocatalysts (Ding et al. 2022, Front Mol Biosciences).

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