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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

 Jack Plume

Jack Plume

PhD Student

 Geoffrey Pope 401


Geoffrey Pope Building, University of Exeter , Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK


My research interests lie in the field of microbiology, particularly surrounding the molecular mechanisms bacteria employ in order to survive and thrive, as well as the growing crisis of antibacterial resistance. My PhD focuses on heavy metal resistance in the Burkholderia cepacia complex, a group of closely related bacteria which are opportunistic pathogens to the immunocompromised, such as sufferers of cystic fibrosis.

My undergraduate degree at the University of Southampton enabled me to undertake a number of research projects employing a diverse range of methodologies. These included investigating the effects of maternal diet on offspring appetite regulation, enhancing neuronal survival in traumatic brain injury, and exploring the conformational changes of the bacterial ABC transporter, Sav1866.


MBioSci Master of Biomedical Sciences, University of Southampton, First Class Honours

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Research projects

Project Title: Characterizing the regulators and effectors of heavy metal resistance in the environmental organism and opportunistic pathogen, Burkholderia cepacia complex.

Supervisors: Dr Alan Brown, Dr Steven Porter

Funding Body: BBSRC (SWBio DTP)

Project Description:

The Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) is a versatile group of closely-related bacterial species which occupy diverse environmental and clinical niches. They are frequently isolated from sources in which heavy metals are elevated, including heavy metal-contaminated soils and the sputum of cystic fibrosis patients. Consequently, the BCC have robust heavy metal resistance mechanisms. My work focuses on defining the regulators and effectors of this resistance, and how they contribute to the BCC’s success in diverse niches.

Specifically, the two-component system CzcRS will be focused on, which confers zinc and cadmium resistance by regulating the CzcCBA efflux pump and a separate gene cluster encoding a novel putative heavy metal resistance determinant. Strikingly, CzcRS also plays a role in virulence and intracellular survival, and has been implicated in antibiotic resistance, highlighting the importance of this single metal-responsive two-component system in both natural and clinical environments.

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