Published August 15, 2012
The study, funded through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, seeks to explain how bacteria sense the status of the nutrient manganese and alter their metabolism to accommodate nutrient availability, O’Brian explains.
“The ability of bacteria to adapt to their environment allows them to successfully infect plants and animals, resulting either in disease or in some benefit to the host,” he says.
O’Brian hopes the research will illuminate manganese’s role in cells, something researchers don't fully understand.
“The longer term objectives are to find therapies that cripple the adaptive machinery of pathogenic bacteria or that improve fitness of beneficial microbes,” he says.
Previously, O’Brian received an $820,000 NIH grant to study regulation of bacterial heme metabolism.