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  Exploring Myxobacteria as live antibiotics against pathogenic bacteria

   Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria have been identified as a global threat to humanity, limiting therapeutic options. The search for new antibiotics lags far behind the occurrence of MDR bacteria with no new antibiotics brought to the clinic for over 15 years. Antibiotic development pipelines are dry at the moment, which has attracted researchers to alternative therapeutic measures and one among them is the use of live organisms such as bacteriophages and predatory bacteria that are increasingly being investigated as ‘living antibiotics’. Our previous research has shown that Myxobacteria isolated from soil have very good killing activities against pathogenic bacteria in infection models. Our group has also recently been working on in silico derived antimicrobial peptides from Myxobacteria. With regards to antimicrobial therapeutic options, synergism is increasingly researched to tackle drug toxicity and resistance problems. The aim of this study is to use a combination of live Myxobacteria (isolated from soil) and in silco derived and synthesised AMPs against pathogenic microorganisms in infection models. The synergistic activity will include enhancing the killing activity of AMP and ensuring a sustainable activity due to the presence of living predatory bacteria as therapeutic agents. 

The study will involve isolating Myxobacteria from soil and testing them against a panel of pathogenic bacteria using in vitro and in vivo infection models. Myxobacterial genomes will be sequenced and screened for AMPs. AMPs will be synthesised and tested against a panel of pathogenic bacteria using traditional methods such as minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), disc diffusion assays and biofilm assays. Potent myxobacteria and AMPs will be explored for synergistic activity in infection models against susceptible bacteria. Biocompatibility profile of both live myxobacteria and AMPs will be studied on cell culture models.

The successful candidate will join a dynamic research group focussed on deciphering mechanisms of biofilm development and novel approaches for their management. You will develop skills in microbiology, cell culture, 3D-printing, microscopy, biochemical assay, and antimicrobial testing. The Microbiology and Infection Research Group is part of the School of Sport and Health Sciences with access to suitably equipped laboratory facilities for the study of bacteria and mammalian cells, at the cellular and molecular level.

Home applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • 1st or 2.1 honours degree in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Microbiology, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, or a closely related discipline.
  • International applicants must meet the following academic criteria:
  • IELTS (or equivalent) of 6.5, a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) and a master’s degree in a relevant subject.

Funding notes

This is a self-funded project available to home and international students. Please see the link for tuition fees and the estimated yearly cost of consumables would be £5,000 per year.

For more information, please contact Dr. Paul Livingstone ()

Biological Sciences (4)


1. Arakal, B.S., Whitworth, D.E., James, P.E., Rowlands, R., Madhusoodanan, N.P., Baijoo, M.R. and Livingstone, P.G., 2023. In Silico and In Vitro Analyses Reveal Promising Antimicrobial Peptides from Myxobacteria. Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins, 15(1), pp.202-214.
2. Chambers, J., Sparks, N., Sydney, N., Livingstone, P.G., Cookson, A.R. and Whitworth, D.E., 2020. Comparative genomics and pan-genomics of the Myxococcaceae, including a description of five novel species: Myxococcus eversor sp. nov., Myxococcus llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogochensis sp. nov., Myxococcus vastator sp. nov., Pyxidicoccus caerfyrddinensis sp. nov. and Pyxidicoccus trucidator sp. nov. Genome Biology and Evolution. 2020 Oct 6:evaa212. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evaa212.
3. Livingstone, P.G., Ingleby, O., Girdwood, S., Cookson, A.R., Morphew, R.M. and Whitworth, D.E., 2020. Predatory Organisms with Untapped Biosynthetic Potential: Descriptions of Novel Corallococcus Species C. aberystwythensis sp. nov., C. carmarthensis sp. nov., C. exercitus sp. nov., C. interemptor sp. nov., C. llansteffanensis sp. nov., C. praedator sp. nov., C. sicarius sp. nov., and C. terminator sp. nov. Applied and environmental microbiology, 86(2).
4. Livingstone, P.G., Morphew, R. and Whitworth, D.E., 2018. Genome sequencing and pan-genome analysis of 23 Corallococcus spp. strains reveal unexpected diversity, with particular plasticity of predatory gene sets. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, p.3187.
5. Livingstone, P.G., Morphew, R.M. and Whitworth, D.E., 2017. Myxobacteria are able to prey broadly upon clinically-relevant pathogens, exhibiting a prey range which cannot be explained by phylogeny. Frontiers in microbiology, 8, p.1593.

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