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Weakening the defence of bacteria – a new potential therapy against infections

PhD defence, Friday 17 June 2022. Thorbjørn V. Sønderby

Thorbjørn Vincent Sønderby
Two bacteria are partially visible in the upper right corner. The filamentous fibril structures are called functional bacterial amyloids. They help the bacteria to protect themselves against antibiotics. Thorbjørn V. Sønderby has investigated in his PhD study how we can weaken the formation of fibrils in bacteria, which can potentially lead to a better treatment of certain types of bacterial infections. The image was taken with electron microscopy.

During his PhD studies, Thorbjørn V. Sønderby researched a very robust biological material, called functional bacterial amyloid. The material consists of thread-like fibrils which are found on the cell surfaces of many bacteria, where it provides protection against antibiotics and environmental changes. Thorbjørn V. Sønderby has studied the mechanism behind the formation of fibrils and together with international collaborators, found a new method to modulate the formation of bacterial fibrils using synthetic protein fragments called peptides. Thorbjørn has also investigated how we as humans can take advantage of the bacteria's very robust fibril material by "harvesting" it and using it in an artificial bio-nanomaterial.

The new research findings contribute to a better understanding of how we can treat certain types of bacterial infections and provide inspiration for future development of new exciting bio-nanomaterials.

The PhD study was completed at Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO), Faculty of Natural Sciences, Aarhus University.

This summary was prepared by the PhD student.               

Time: Friday, 17 June 2022 at 13.15
Place: Building 1593, room 012, iNANO Auditorium, Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO), Aarhus University, Gustav Wieds Vej 14, 8000 Aarhus C
Title of PhD thesis: Steering self-assembly of Functional Bacterial Amyloid: the effects of denaturants, peptides and graphite

Contact information: Thorbjørn V. Sønderby, e-mail: thorbjoern.soenderby@gmail.com, tel.: +45 61261208

Members of the assessment committee:

Professor Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden

Associate Professor Kaare Teilum, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Professor Niels Christian Nielsen (chair), iNANO and Department of Chemistry, Aarhus University, Denmark

Main supervisor:
Professor Daniel Erik Otzen, iNANO and Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, Denmark

Professor Chen Wang, National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Language: The PhD dissertation will be defended in English

The defence is public.
The PhD thesis is available for reading at the Graduate School of Natural Sciences/GSNS,

Jens Baggesens Vej 53, building 5221, second floor, 8200 Aarhus N.

16882 / i43