Debanjana Maity

Doctoral candidate at University of Queensland

About me

I completed my Master of Research degree in Molecular Microbiology at Newcastle University in the UK in 2023, and I am eager to embark on a new academic chapter as a PhD student at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Before this, I completed my integrated bachelor’s and master’s degree in Biotechnology at KIIT University, India, in 2020. My passion for research was ignited during an Erasmus Plus fellowship in 2018, allowing me to study at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland. There, I delved into projects spanning agricultural microbiology, food engineering, and nanobiotechnology.

In 2019, I was granted the INSA-IAS-NASI Summer Research Fellowship from the Indian Academy of Sciences. This led to a two-month research internship at Pondicherry University, India, where I investigated antibiotic resistances in commercially available probiotics. My findings, including unusual resistance, were published in the Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance in 2020, reinforcing the urgency of tackling antimicrobial resistance.

Motivated by this experience, I pursued an MRes in Molecular Microbiology, further enhancing my microbiology and molecular biology skills. In this transformative journey, my ambition solidified – to significantly contribute to combating global antimicrobial resistance.

I eagerly anticipate collaborating with esteemed researchers and experts in the field, pooling our knowledge and skills to dismantle the defences of Gram-negative bacteria. Together, we can ensure that common infections remain treatable with today’s antibiotics.

About my project
DC11: BAM-peptidoglycan interactions

Gram-negative bacteria have a multi-layered cell envelope with an outer membrane that is tightly connected to the underlying peptidoglycan cell wall layer. The outer membrane protects the cell from many toxic molecules and lysins, and the peptidoglycan layer confers osmotic stability and its biosynthesis is the target of some of our best antibiotics. Growing and dividing bacteria transport all outer membrane components (lipopolysaccharide, outer membrane proteins, phospholipids) through the pores of the net-like peptidoglycan and insert them into the outer membrane, using dedicated and sophisticated multi-protein machineries. One of these, the BAM complex, folds outer membrane beta-barrel proteins (OMPs, porins) into the outer membrane. How outer membrane biogenesis is coordinated with peptidoglycan growth is largely unknown.

Recent research shows that peptidoglycan maturation controls the activity of the BAM complex. In this project, we will use a range of techniques in molecular biology, microscopy and protein biochemistry to decipher how BAM proteins interact with peptidoglycan and other cell envelope factors, and how these interactions affect BAM function in the test tube and cell. The project is expected to discover molecular mechanisms that can be targeted by new molecules that disrupt cell envelope coordination in bacteria.