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Cambridge Biosciences DTP PhD Programme


Department of Biochemistry

Research theme: Bioscience for renewable resources and clean growth


During my undergraduate degree at Imperial College London I developed a passion for synthetic and systems biology: two fields of research that aim to engineer and deconstruct living systems in order to understand their assembly logic. I am now trying to apply those principles to study how and why certain bacteria are able to sense and generate electrical signals when living in biofilms. In particular, I am curious about the molecular mechanisms and genetic components that allow cyanobacteria to produce electricity from sunlight, air and water. I am also keen about developing biophysical techniques to investigate how the evolution of electrical signalling in structured communities of cyanobacteria contributes to the emergence of collective properties.


Project Title:

Synthetic biology tools to investigate redox signal transduction in cyanobacteria

Project Summary:

Electron and redox reactions form the foundation for the energy and information conversion processes that characterise biological and electronic systems. Investigating the biochemical mechanisms that bacteria have evolved to regulate these electron transfer reactions is important to understand the physiological changes happening in the cell in various redox environments and can be exploited to exchange information between electrical and biological devices by genetic means. Cyanobacteria belong to an ecologically and biotechnologically important phylum of photosynthetic prokaryotes that are often used in bioelectrochemical systems, but whose mechanisms of redox signal transduction remain largely uncharacterised. This lack in knowledge limits the possibility to rationally engineer exoelectrogenic pathways and maximise current outputs for sustainable energy production. Using a combination of bioinformatics, synthetic biology and bioelectrochemistry, my project intends to address this lack in knowledge. 
To achieve this, I am developing a modular framework to genetically engineer cyanobacteria, in order to characterise the contribution of  specific redox-sensitive genetic factors on the ability to sense, regulate and generate electrical signals. Understanding these redox-sensitive genetic components will facilitate the construction of novel electrogenetic devices that can be operated in aerobic conditions and facilitate the genetic wiring between photosynthetic
bacteria with bioelectrochemical systems.

Teaching and Supervisions

Research supervision: 

Professor Christopher J. Howe

Staff Photo

Contact Details

Job Titles

PhD Student