Chemistry Department

Amy Gehring

Biochemist

If you have smelled fresh dirt, you have already been introduced to bacteria of the genus Streptomyces. In addition to producing the characteristic odor of dirt, these common soil bacteria manufacture the majority of known antibiotics. These medicinally-important compounds are produced during the course of the bacterium’s unusual and complicated life cycle that culminates in sporulation. Research in my lab involves understanding the regulation of this developmental process and concurrent antibiotic production in the model organism Streptomyces coelicolor. Beginning with mutant strains that are defective in certain aspects of development, we have identified genes and thereby proteins that are necessary to progress through the various stages of the bacterium’s life cycle. Current projects in the lab include (1) using proteomics approaches including 2D gel electrophoresis and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry to characterize changes in the cell resulting from activity of a stress response sigma factor; (2) characterizing the activity of a potential transcription factor required for sporulation; and (3) assaying the effects of various mutations on antibiotic production.