The study of bacterial cell biology has surged in the last decade, largely due to technological advances in live-cell imaging, the discovery of new bacterial cytoskeletal elements, and the need to identify new targets and novel therapies for emerging antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As a result, we now appreciate that bacteria are highly organized creatures at the subcellular level; they localize macromolecules to specific cellular locations, often in dynamic and temporally regulated manners. Strikingly, the range of bacterial molecules with specific localizations encompasses every fundamental cellular process, including DNA replication, cell division, and secretion, not to mention specialized activities such as motility, virulence, and development into differential cell types.
The study of how bacteria organize important cellular processes and determining the functional/physiological implications of this organization for the cell is one of the most exciting areas of research in microbiology. In the Herman lab, we utilize the model organism Bacillus subtilis, a bacterium with superb molecular, genetic and cell biological tools, that that can also differentiate into a resting cell type called a spore. Our research goal is to elucidate how bacteria coordinate key biological processes, with their cellular architecture using molecular, biochemical, and cell biological techniques.