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Research group on biological motors and bacterial motility

Welcome to the page of biophotonics research group of Professor Simon Rainville.
We are part of the physics department at Laval University and the Center for Optics, Photonics and Laser (COPL).



Professor Simon Rainville
Phone: 418 656-2131 poste 12511
Fax: 418 656-2623
Pavillon d'optique-photonique, local 2139
Dép. de physique, de génie physique et d'optique
Université Laval
Québec, Canada
G1K 7P4

Guillaume Paradis (MSc)
Ismael Duchesne (MSc)

Mathieu Gauthier (PhD)
Alexandre Bastien (MSc)
Dany Truchon (MSc)

Research interests

The study of biological molecular motors is a fascinating and important endeavour, both from a fundamental and practical perspective, as they are involved in countless aspects of life. Our research program focuses on an extraordinary biological machine: the bacterial flagellar motor. Like many other bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli) swims in the various aqueous environments with the help of rigid helices called flagella that extend from its body. Each flagellum consists in a long helical filament driven at its base by a rotary motor. With a diameter of about 45 nm, the flagellar motor is a nanotechnological marvel. Despite a few decades of research, there are still many open questions and the study of this system is a very active and exciting area of current research. The ultimate objective of this research program is to contribute to a fundamental understanding, at the molecular level, of flagellated bacterial motility. For example, we don’t completely understand how the motor works. Also, how can this motor, which can rotate at speeds up to 20 000 rpm, suddenly reverses its direction of rotation ?

To help answer these questions, our research activities have concentrated on the development of an in vitro system to study the bacterial flagellar motor, and on the investigation of new probes to precisely monitor its rotation. The in vitro assay consists of holding a single bacterium inside the tip of a tiny glass tube. Femtosecond laser pulses are then used to punch a small hole in the membrane of the cell to gain access to its interior. This system allows unprecedented control over the experimental parameters influencing the motor and opens a whole new world of possibilities.

Current Projects

  • Study of the bacterial filament assembly process: Do filaments regrow after breakage ? Does a filament's growth rate depends on its length ? (collaboration with Marc Erhardt and Kelly Hughes)
  • Study of the motility of bacteria in anisotropic media (liquid crystals) (collaboration with Tigran Galstian).
  • Development and caracterization of our unique in vitro assay (already demonstrated) to measure for example steps in the rotation of the flagellar motor or study its ability to rapidly switch its direction of rotation.
  • The design and assembly of state-of-the-art biophotonics instrumentation.

Here are two posters presented by our group at the BLAST XII conference in Tucson in Jan 2013:


Our laboratory always welcomes motivated students (undergraduates, graduates) and postdoctoral fellows interested in experimental biophotonics research. If you have a passion for advanced microscopy, instrumentation, image analysis, or molecular biology and/or a deep curiosity for how things work, please consider contacting Simon Rainville to discuss the possibilities for joining our team for your internship or graduate studies.

If you are admissible, you are especially encouraged to apply for scholarships (NSERC, FQRNT or others). Look at the website of Bureau des bourses et de l'aide financière for more details. Please note that you should apply for scholarships the year before your admission in a graduate program (deadlines are around October 1st) to make sure that you will be funded for the entire duration of your studies.

Our group is associated with the Physics department and the Biophotonics Graduate Program at Laval University.



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D:/Web/WikiRainville/data/pages/public/start.txt · Dernière modification: 2015/11/03 22:02 par srainville