Expression of DNA transfer (tra) genes is a prerequisite for horizontal plasmid DNA transfer via bacterial conjugation. A plasmid encoded protein, TraJ, is required for transcriptional activation of tra genes of F-like plasmids. By using in vitro and in vivo analyses we investigate structural and funcitonal properties of TraJ.
We use a variety of molecular biological and biochemical methods from DNA cloning to gene expression analyses and protein purification. In collaboration with Prof. Keller from the structural biology group we aim to determine the 3D structure of TraJ and its interacting proteins.
Corrosion of concrete-based sewer systems is a worldwide issue with great economical relevance. Microbially induced concrete corrosion is considered to significantly reduce the lifespan of concrete structures, frome xpected 100 down to 30–50 years, in extreme cases even down to 10 years.
Microorganisms intimately associated with conrete corrosion are Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans and At. ferrooxidans, bacteria that can generate energy from oxidizing sulfur or iron, respectively. To better understand the contribution of different microorganisms to concrete corrosion we aim to determine the composition of microbial communities in samples from deteriorated concrete structures.
This project is a collaboration with Cyrill Grengg and Prof. Martin Dietzel from the Institute of Applied Geology at the Technical University of Graz.