Resistance mechanisms in Cupriavidus metallidurans

SCK•CEN Mentor

Van Houdt Rob,, +32 (0)14 33 27 28

Expert group



Cupriavidus metallidurans strains, which belong to the Burkholderiaceae family and are characterized by multiple metal resistances, have been mostly isolated from industrial sites linked to mining, metallurgic and chemical industries. These strains are often typified by their large arsenal of mobile genetic elements (plasmids, transposons, genomic islands) that carry determinants allowing the strains to specifically adapt to their environment. For example, C. metallidurans type strain CH34 carries many determinants for metal resistance on its megaplasmids pMOL28 and pMOL30. Interestingly, while they often thrive in oligotrophic niches like industrial sites but also water systems (such as drinking water systems and even spent nuclear fuel pools), Cupriavidus isolates are increasingly being recovered from medically-relevant sources.

Studies at SCK•CEN underscored the rapid evolution of C. metallidurans strains towards significantly increased metal resistance. Surprisingly, the canonical mechanisms did not always participate in this adaptive evolution. In contrast, uncharacterized systems or unidentified transcriptional networks were discovered.


In essence, this project aims to characterize and dissect the genetic regulation, molecular characteristics and physiological impact of these novel mechanisms, with regard to their role in the response to stress (e.g. metals). These objectives will be met by studying their phenotypic impact in C. metallidurans with regard to resistance, and by dissecting the genetic regulation of their encoding genes.

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

Professional bachelor , Academic bachelor , A2: Upper secondary school (+7th year BSO)

The candidate needs to have a background in

Other , Bio-engineering , Biology , Biochemie; Biotechnologie