Bacteriophages as generalised synthetic DNA delivery vehicles

Renos Savva (primary)
Biological Sciences
John M Ward (secondary)
Biochemical Engineering


Bacteriophages are specialised nanomachines, delivering DNA payloads to specific types of bacteria via distinct interconnected parts. These parts are exchangeable: Any phage could be re-targeted to deliver DNA to any desired bacterial cell type. Although normally delivering instructions to copy itself, phages can be directed to deliver any genetic circuit to a bacterium. Artificial circuits could reprogram a cell’s repertoire with applications in microbial control, microbiome enhancement, or bioremediation. Following a previous LIDo DTP studentship, this project seeks to build on successes in phage nanomachine customisation, and extend novel payload concepts. We also seek to explore firewalling via cell-free approaches.


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4 Volozhantsev, N.V., et al. (2012). Molecular Characterisation of Podoviral Bacteriophages Virulent for Clostridium perfringens and Their Comparison with Members of the Picovirinae. Plos One, 7(5): e38283.
5 Villanueva, H., Sattar, S., Javed, A., Vasciaveo, S., Pinheiro, V., Savva, R., & Orlova, E. (manuscript in preparation). Multidisciplinary structural analysis of diverse picovirinae portal proteins enables applied particle engineering.

Plants, microbes, food and sustainability
Area of Biology
BiotechnologyStructural Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiochemistryBioinformaticsBiophysicsMolecular BiologySimulation / Modelling