Dr Bertram Daum
Senior Research Fellow
+44 (0)1392 727455
Living Systems Institute T03.17
Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD
I am a Senior Research Fellow in the Living Systems Institute.
Follow me on Twitter: @DaumLaboratory
Visit our lab's website: daumlab.exeter.ac.uk
2014: Dr phil. nat. in Biology, University of Frankfurt, Germany
2008: MsSc in Biology, University of Kassel, Germany
2018 - Present: Senior Research Fellow at the Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter, UK
2017 – 2018: Research Fellow at the Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter, UK
2014 – 2017: Postdoctoral researcher at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt, Germany
2008 – 2014: PhD research at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt, Germany
Archaea are ubiquitous microorganisms that are the ancestors of all eukaryotic life and inhabit diverse environments ranging from the most extreme to the human body. Archaea that are part of the human microbiome are increasingly recognised as key health factors in metabolic conditions such as obesity. Moreover, protein complexes derived from extremophilic archaea are ultra-stable and highly resilient to extreme conditions such as heat, pH and salt and are thus of great interest for bio- and nanotechnology. My lab employs state-of-the-art single particle electron cryo-microscopy and cryo-tomography to investigate the structure and function of archaeal surface proteins. These include S-layers, which form highly stable cage-like proteinaceous cell walls and the archaellum, a filamentous molecular machine used for rotary propulsion, surface adherence, biofilm formation and cell-cell communication. Our work will provide detailed information about how archaea move through and interact with their (microbiomal) environment and inform new approaches to exploit s-layers and the archaellum machinery in nanotechnology and drug delivery.
Dr Kelly Sanders (Lab Technician)
Dr Patricia Gil-Diez (Bioimaging Technician)
Dr Mathew McLaren (Experimental Officer for cryoEM)
Dr Lavinia Gambelli (Postdoc)
Matt Gaines (PhD student)
Our brand-new lab is home to cultivation equipment for thermophiles, a cryoEM sample preparation facility, a cryo-capable 120 kV FEI T12 electron microscope for sample screening and a cutting-edge GPU computer cluster for image processing. For high resolution imaging, we share a 200 kV Talos Arctica electron microscope with the University of Bristol.
In the news
Biohybrid MicroRobots (BMRs) are conceptual microscopic robotic devices that combine synthetic and biological components and can be remote controlled to a specific destination, attach to a target and perform a bespoke biochemical operation at nanoscale precision. Within the 5-year Microrobots project, we intend to develop innovative BMRs by combining magnetic swimmers with prokaryotic S-layers. Read more on the project page.
- 2019 Wellcome Trust
Microbes produce long, hair-like appendages called flagella and pili, which project from their cell surface. Both types of filament are multifunctional and act as a means of communication between individual microbes, and between microbes and the environment. Flagella and pili also enable microbes to swim, attach to and “walk” along surfaces, exchange genetic material and form biofilms. Examples include dental plaque or dangerous contamination on hospital catheters and implants. As these filaments also enable microbes to move, they help microbes to spread and infect the human body. Study of the dynamic behaviour of these filaments will help us understand their function and inform the design of new drugs. This is especially important in view of the growing number of infectious bacteria that develop antibiotic resistance. Through recent work we have determined the structures of flagella and pili at very high detail, where their atomic composition can be seen. In this project, we will now explore how these atomic structures determine large-scale motion. This will provide targets for the development of new drugs, which can disrupt the motion and spread of infectious microbes.
- 2019 BBSRC
This grant allowed us to purchase a high pressure freezer and a freeze-substitution unit.
- 2019 ISSF Wellcome Trust Seed Corn Fund
This grant enabled us to engage into a collaboration with Daniel Galvis in order to investigate the dynamics of archaella and type-4 pili by MD simulations. Funds were als used to purchase a high-powered GPU workstation.
- 2018 ERC Starter Grant
Biohybrid MicroRobots (BMRs) are conceptual microscopic robotic devices that combine synthetic and biological components and can be remote controlled to a specific destination, attach to a target and perform a bespoke biochemical operation at nanoscale precision. Within the 5-year Microrobots project, we intend to develop innovative BMRs by combining magnetic swimmers (MSs) with prokaryotic S-layers (SLs). MSs are microscopic devices that consist of two flexibly linked metallic beads with different magnetic properties and can be remote controlled through liquid media, simply by applying oscillating magnetic fields. SLs are highly stable 2-dimensional protein arrays that form resilient cell wall components in archaea and bacteria and can be genetically modified and reassembled on inorganic surfaces. I will introduce affinity tags into selected archaeal and bacterial SLs and reassemble them on the surfaces of MSs. This will coat MSs with unique affinity matrices, on which bioactive molecules can be conjugated at regular arrays, high density and defined distance. Through this strategy, we will generate BMRs that can be equipped with any bioactive functionality provided by nature, such as adhesive filaments, enzymes, antibodies, reporters, drug cargo or any other thinkable functional molecule. The BMRs that we will develop will elegantly miniaturise robotics and enable us to deliver bioactivity at nanometre precision. This will provide a revolutionary platform technology that will be applicable in a plethora of fields, such as medicine, nanotechnology, environmental engineering or scientific exploration and generate a real step change in the ways in which we build new materials, engineer our environment, fight disease and explore the universe in the 21st century.
- 2018 Wellcome Trust
Microsporidia are tiny parasites that can infect animals and humans and cause serious disease, which are especially detrimental for humans with weak immune systems. Not only are microsporidia a danger to human health, but they are also partly responsible for the recent decimation in pollinating honey bee populations; a potential threat to our global food supply. Despite the global health and economic problems caused by microsporidia, the way they infect animals and humans is poorly understood. We aim to investigate the mechanism of microsporidia infection at an unprecedented level of detail by using the powerful new method of cryo electron microscopy. We will image microsporidia in 3D and at a resolution in which individual molecules can be seen. This research will be a breakthrough in understanding microsporidia infection in order to help fight microsporidiosis in animals and humans.
- 2017 Wellcome Trust, Multiuser Equipment Grant
With this grant, we acquired a state-of-the-art detector for cryoEM, which allows us to record cutting-edge cryoEM data at our shared GW4-shared South West Regional Facility for High-Resolution Electron Cryo-microscopy in Bristol. The grant was also match-funded by the University of Exeter and enabled us to set up a local cryoEM facility at the LSI. This grant forms the essential technical basis for all our cryoEM work.
Publications by category
Publications by year
External Engagement and Impact
I am currently chairing the Steering Committee for the South West Regional Facility for GW4-shared High-Resolution Electron Cryo-microscopy at the University of Bristol.
in 2014, I received the Otto Hahn Medal from the Max-Planck-Society for outstanding junior scientists.
In 2014, I received the Young Investigator’s Prize from the Heinz-Bethge Foundation for Electron Microscopy. The award recognises extraordinary contributions to the field of cryoEM.
Supervision / Group
- Becky Conners Postdoc