Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr James Behrendorff
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science

External supervisors

  • Dr Zacharie LeBlanc


Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a bacterium that reprograms plants by transferring foreign DNA into plant cells. This natural phenomenon has been repurposed for biotechnology, and Agrobacterium-mediated transfection is now the most widely-used method for genetically manipulating plants. It is central to industrial-scale production of plant-made antibodies and vaccines, and to fundamental molecular biology research.

Despite its importance, relatively little effort has been put into modifying and optimising the bacterium itself. This project aims to engineer Agrobacterium tumefaciens to further boost the production of plant-made antibodies.

Research activities

  • bacterial transformation and cultivation
  • bacterial growth and phenotype assays
  • transfection of plants using Agrobacterium
  • sampling and analysing plant tissue samples
  • data analysis
  • record keeping.


This project will characterise new, modified versions of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. This will create new knowledge about how the modifications affect Agrobacterium physiology, and whether these changes can enhance the production of high value biologics such as antibodies.

Skills and experience

At least two years study in a biological sciences degree, ideally with some background in biotechnology, biochemistry, microbiology, or genetics.


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

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Contact the supervisor for more information.