Biology of the unique intra-mitochondrial bacterium Midichloria mitochondrii

Biology of the unique intra-mitochondrial bacterium Midichloria mitochondrii

Project details

Mitochondria are essential organelles responsible for energy generation and regulating signalling and cell death. Mitochondrial dysfunction and disease have enormous health consequences, including aging, cancer, metabolic disorders and heart disease.

The alphaproteobacterium Midichloria mitochondrii is the only organism known to colonise mitochondria (in blood-feeding ticks). Its role in host cell physiology and interaction with the mitochondria is understudied. 

A current hypothesis is that the bacterium improves host cellular respiration. Intriguingly, during multiplication within the mitochondrion, M. mitochondrii clearly alters the mitochondrial structure, yet does not trigger cell death. 

This project seeks to explore this unique endobiosis, understand its origin and impact on the host cell and develop it as a model to better understand mitochondrial targeting, membrane repair and molecular function.

About our research group

The Jex lab is a diverse, multi-disciplinary group with a primary focus on infectious disease, parasitology, host-parasite interactions and pathogen control. Our group’s specific areas of expertise include genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, diagnostic tool development and parasite culture. 

The current proposal, recently funded through the Human Frontier Sciences Program, represents an international collaboration with colleagues in Italy, Germany and France. The Australian component of this work will include undertaking genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic characterisation of tick ovarian cells infected by M. mitochondrii compared to uninfected control cells and metagenomics-ased sequencing of related tick species to support efforts to identify the origin of intramitochondrial endobiosis within this unique bacterial family.




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