The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Research Projects

Project: Characterisation of a putative phage-inducible chromosomal island in Streptococcus pneumoniae

Satzke Group

Phage-inducible chromosomal islands (PICIs) are genetic elements that benefit bacteria by restricting bacteriophage replication in favour of their own survival. Upon induction by bacteriophage infection, PICIs block bacteriophage reproduction and preferentially package their own DNA into the bacteriophage-encoded capsid, forming transducing particles that contain PICI DNA that can be horizontally transferred to a new host. Most research involving functional characterisation of PICIs have been conducted in Staphylococcus aureus; our knowledge of PICIs in other bacteria is limited. We have identified a putative PICI in a Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) strain isolated from the nasopharynx of a healthy child. In this project, you will investigate the functional significance of this mobile genetic element in pneumococci. You will isolate and characterise pneumococcal bacteriophages and determine whether pneumococci carrying the PICI are protected against bacteriophage infection, as well as investigate other phenotypes the PICI may confer to its bacterial host. You will also conduct molecular screening using clinical samples to determine the prevalence of the PICI. This project will involve a range of skills including traditional microbiological culture and molecular biology techniques. 

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Associate Professor Catherine Satzke

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Steve Petrovski
Dr Sam Manna

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Satzke Group

[email protected]

4 vacancies

Host Pathogens Interactions
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Translational and Clinical Research
Global Health

The Satzke group conducts discovery research in a clinically-relevant context. We focus on two pathogens of major global health importance (pneumococcus and group A streptococcus) to understand their pathogenesis, interaction with viruses, and how infections can be best prevented with vaccines. We collaborate closely with immunologists, clinicians and epidemiologists, including in more than ten countries in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Satzke Group Current Projects