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Self Funded Research Opportunities Form
a. MSc
Project Title :
The role of Minimal Mobile Elements in species and
strain variation in the Neisseria.
b. PhD
Degree Type :
Dr. Lori Snyder
Start & End date
Expiry date
Project Summary
This M.Sc. project will expand upon my previous investigations into Minimal Mobile Elements in the Neisseria
spp, to include Neisseria meningitidis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and commensal species such as Neisseria
lactamica. Minimal Mobile Elements play a role in horizontal gene transfer and integration through homologous
recombination between conserved protein-encoding genes that flank exchangeable gene cassettes.
40 different MME sites have been identified in Neisseria (Saunders and Snyder, Microbiol, 2002; Snyder et al.,
BMC Genomics, 2004; Snyder et al., Plasmid, 2005; Snyder and Saunders, BMC Genomics, 2006; Bentley et al.,
PLoS Genetics, 2007; Snyder et al., Mol Biol Evol, 2007). There is demonstrated variation in the gene cassettes
present at each site between different species and strains.
No studies have yet addressed the phenotypic differences that may be attributed to gene cassette exchange in
the Minimal Mobile Elements as a whole. The types of genes present and combinations of genes present will be
investigated, making use of the increasing amount of genome sequence data available for these bacteria.
This study will involve whole genome sequence analysis and comparative genome sequence analysis to identify
Minimal Mobile Elements. Many of the sequences to be analyzed will be incomplete and unannotated, therefore
the student must have the patience and prokaryotic genetics knowledge to correctly annotate sequences and
identify previously undiscovered Minimal Mobile Elements. Laboratory-based aspects of the project will involve
functional studies of the gene cassettes believed to contribute to phenotypic differences between species and
A passionate interest in microbiology, genomics, and molecular genetics is required. Student will be expected to
produce written pieces of work of publication quality.
Relevant references:
The repertoire of minimal mobile elements in the Neisseria species and evidence that these are involved in
horizontal gene transfer in other bacteria. Snyder LA, McGowan S, Rogers M, Duro E, O'Farrell E, Saunders NJ.
Mol Biol Evol. 2007 Dec;24(12):2802-15.
The minimal mobile element. Saunders NJ, Snyder LA. Microbiology. 2002 Dec;148(Pt 12):3756-60.
For more information please contact Dr Lori Snyder on [email protected]
Faculty of Science / Self Funded Research Opportunities Form
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