A. Quorum sensing and other bacterial signalling mechanisms
Since 1994 he has been working in the molecular biology behind the global coordination of gene expression in bacterial populations through quorum sensing. His research covers from human pathogens to bacteria found in the soil and marine environments. Amongst the main organisms he is currently working on is Pseudomonas aeruginosa in which quorum sensing is reaching a high level of complexity as a result of the vast gathering of information from genomic studies. To understand how quorum sensing cascades integrate within different regulatory networks he has been studying bacterial responses to environmental changes at the genomic, proteomic and metabolomic levels.
His research also covers a wider range of signalling processes in bacteria including those triggered by: (i) yet unknown extracellular signals which control gene expression at the posttranscriptional level through small RNAs and RNA binding proteins, and (ii) fatty acid-based molecules involved in intercellular signalling processes. Amongst other things he is studying, using sophisticated control flow biofilm models and confocal microscopy, the impact of these signalling mechanisms on biofilm formation.
Using state of the art analytical chemistry facilities has enabled his group to embark on studies on the potential exploitation of quorum sensing molecules as biomarkers of bacterial infection which will have a significant impact in the clinic.
B. Antimicrobial development
His main research in this area in on (i) the exploitation of quorum sensing as an antibacterial target and (ii) the identification of novel targets for antimicrobial development in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Professor Cámara has been coordinator of the EU Marie Curie Early Stages of Training Network ANTIBIOTARGET on "Molecular and functional genomic approaches to novel antibacterial target discovery". He has also been a partner and member of the management board of the FP7 Cooperation programme NABATIVI on "Novel approaches to bacterial target identification validation and inhibition" a programme run by nine leading European research teams, including three pharmaceutical companies, on the use of multidisciplinary approaches for the development of novel antibacterials against P. aeruginosa. He is also currently coordinator of the JPIAMR consortium SENBIOTAR on 'Sensitising P. aeruginosa biofilms to antibiotics and reducing virulence through novel target inhibition' with research institutions from Canada, Sweden and Denmark.
C. Impact of quorum sensing on bacterial-plant interactions
Through various collaborations nationally and internationally, Prof Camara has studied: (i) the impact of quorum sensing systems from marine bacteria on the interaction between these bacteria and algae and (ii) the role of quorum sensing in the relationship between bacteria and plants. As part of the latter he has been working in collaboration with Prof Liu Xiaoguang from Jiangsu University in China, where he was awarded a Guest Professorship, on the Marie Curie IIF program (PROABROBAC) to investigate the role of the signaling systems from Serratia plymuthica on the biocontrol properties of this organism and the interaction with different host plants.
PROAGROBAC International Incoming Fellowship (IIF)
Determination of novel molecular cross-signaling mechanisms between bacteria and plants leading to enhanced crop production.
This IIF fellowship has enabled Prof. Xiaoguang Liu, a highly experienced senior researcher form Jiangsu University (China) with experience gene regulation in Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria and their interactions with plants to transfer some of this knowledge, whilst undertaking research in the UK, to Professor Miguel Cámara's laboratory at the University of Nottingham. In return Prof. Liu has acquired advanced knowledge on the study of bacterial signalling networks. This has enabled them to increase their research links with a view to establish long-term collaborations between the Universities of Jiangsu and Nottingham in the area of crop sciences with a view to improve agricultural sustainability and adaptation to climate changes.
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