Rosanna Catherine Hennessy

Rosanna Catherine Hennessy

Assistant Professor

Current research

I am a biotechnologist with expertise in molecular biology and microbial genetics where the overall focus of my research is to understand how soil bacteria synthesize secondary metabolites and enzymes, and how we can utilize such products for sustainable applications in biotechnology.

I am particularly interested in bacterial lipopeptides mainly from Pseudomonas species where my research is focussed on understanding the biosynthesis and regulatory mechanisms underpinnng lipopeptide production in response to environmental signals and during interactions with plants and other microbes. This information is key to gaining new insights into their ecological functions and optimizing bioproduction.

My research profile covers pure to applied sciences and employs an interdisciplinary approach combining omics technologies (genomics and transcriptomics), bacterial genetics (targeted and random gene disruptions), biochemistry (enzyme purification and assay) and metabolomics (LC-MS and imaging mass spectrometry) to characterize new microbes, enzymes and secondary metabolites.

My current research activities are:

Molecular microbial interactions. Healthy soils promote healthy crops. Key to soil heath are beneficial microbes that can protect plants from pathogen attack and promote growth. However, the mechanisms underpinning the interactions between beneficial bacteria with their environment e.g. plants, fungi and other microbes  is poorly understood. My work in this area mainly focuses on understanding how bacteria sense signals from the environment and process this information to coordinate the expression of beneficial traits including production of key specialized metabolites.

Molecular tools for studying microbial interactions. In order to study microbial interactions, I apply a combination of molecular- based tools that include gene editing techniques to generate mutant strains, reporter gene technology to study promoters and transcription of key genes, and microplate-based imaging to study interactions in vivo. These technologies are then complemented by chemical analysis (e.g. LC-HRMS) to study the metabolic profiles of wild-type and mutant strains.

Microbial enzymes for food and biotech. Microorganisms are an important source of enzymes, which offer several advantages in food processing e.g. high specificity and activity, and an ability to function under mild or harsh pH or temperature conditions. Furthermore, as natural products, enzymes can contribute toward the development of more environmentally - friendly and sustainable processes. In this research area, we use a combination of culture dependent and independent approaches coupled with bioinformatics and heterologous expression to discover and functionally characterize new enzymes of industrial interest.

Key words;

Soil bacteria, Pseudomonas, cyclic lipopeptides, bacterial-bacterial interactions, bacterial-fungal interactions, plant-microbe interactions, bacterial-fungal interactions, rhizosphere, secondary metabolites, signalling molecules, enzymes, microbial isolation and screening, reporter technology, bacterial promoters, mutagenesis, omics technologies

 

If you are interested in working within these areas as part of a bachelor or master thesis project or wish to collaborate on future projects please feel free to contact me at hennessy@plen.ku.dk. 

 

Projects

Current

Previous

  • Innovation Fund Denmark Project “proPOTATO”: Potato proteins – Challenges and Industrial Possibilities” where KMC, Aarhus University, and Copenhagen University will together with AKV Langholt and DuPont Nutrition Biosciences run the proPOTATO project upgrading potato protein from starch production to sustainable food ingredients
  • Villum Foundation Project “Microbial Communication‐A Key to the Development of Novel Sustainable Agri‐ and Aquaculture Practices Using Biological Control Bacteria

 

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