Dissecting the transfer mechanism of the integrative and conjugative element ICEclc in Pseudomonas.
Horizontal gene transfer is the most common pattern with which microorganisms acquire heterologous genetic material. This phenomenon is the main driver of bacterial evolution, and allows them to gain new functionalities as antibiotic resistance, or the ability to degrade different carbon sources. ICEclc confers the ability on its bacterial host to degrade 3-chlorobenzoate and it is usually stably integrated in the host genome. However, in a small percentage of cells this element is mobilized and transfers to a new recipient.
The main goal of my project will be to investigate how this element is transferred and if there is a specific pattern that is followed. Like other integrative and conjugative elements the ICEclc carries the genes that encode for the proteins forming the conjugation machinery. With an integrated approach of molecular biology and time-lapse microscopy I aim to follow, with different fluorescent markers, the localization of the conjugative machinery and the ICE element, in order to establish if the transfer happens in a specific section of the cell, when it happens and if there are particular features that distinguish ICEclc transfer compared to other transfer systems.