Professor Nicola Stanley-Wall

FRSE FRSB FEAM SFHEA

Professor

Molecular Microbiology, School of Life Sciences

Academic Lead for Public Engagement

School of Life Sciences

Portrait photo of Nicola Stanley-Wall
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Contact

Email

N.R.Stanleywall@dundee.ac.uk

Phone

+44 (0)1382 386335

Biography

Professor Nicola Stanley-Wall is Head of the Division of Molecular Microbiology and Academic Lead for Public Engagement in the School of Life Sciences. 

Nicola is a Professor of Microbiology. She was awarded her Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia in 2000 and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Los Angeles from early 2000 until late 2005. At this point, Nicola was awarded a David Phillips Fellowship from BBSRC to establish her own laboratory and she moved to the University of Dundee.  

Nicola is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Member of the European Academy of Microbiology.

Research

Five photographs combined into one image showing different microbes growing on agar plates and blue bands containing proteins on a gel.

The ability of unicellular bacteria to co-ordinate responses and to act as a multicellular population is proposed to provide an advantage to the bacterial population as a whole. A mechanism whereby bacteria can function as a multicellular population is to form a biofilm, a community of bacterial cells that is adherent to a surface, interface or to each other and encased in a self-produced polymeric matrix.

Bacteria living in biofilms have increased resistance to various antimicrobial agents and are better adapted to survive periods of environmental stress. Therefore, biofilms have a significant impact in clinical settings, where they are the causative agent of the majority of chronic infections, and in industrial settings where they cause significant damage due to corrosion and bio fouling. On the other hand microbial biofilms can also result in beneficial processes such as bio-remediation and bio-control that cannot be accomplished by bacteria that are dispersed in the environment. Knowledge of the molecular mechanism of biofilm formation should allow the development of novel treatment strategies for controlling chronic biofilm infections and the development of ecologically friendly pesticides.

Our research interests are centred on using molecular biology and biochemistry to understand how bacterial build multicellular communities called biofilms. In particular we are interested in the way the molecules in the biofilm matrix provide support and protection to biofilms formed by the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. We work closely with Prof Cait MacPhee a biophysicist from the University of Edinburgh, and Profs Fordyce Davidson, Michael Ferguson and Jason Swedlow from the University of Dundee.

Selected Publications

  • Arnaouteli S$, Bamford NC$Stanley-Wall NR*, Kovács ÁT*2021. “Bacillus subtilis biofilm formation and social interactions”. Nature Reviews Microbiology. 19:600-614. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41579-021-00540-9   
  • Goya ME, Xue F, Sampedro-Torres-Quevedo C, Arnaouteli S, Riquelme-Dominguez L, Romanowski A, Brydon J, Ball K, Stanley-Wall N, Doitsido M. 2020. “Probiotic Bacillus subtilis protects against α-synuclein aggregation in C. elegans”. Cell Reports. 30(2):367-380.e7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.12.078  
  • Sofia Arnaouteli, Daniel Matoz Fernandez, Michael Porter, Margarita Kalamara, James Abbott, Cait E. MacPhee, Fordyce Davidson* and Nicola R. Stanley-Wall*  2019 “Pulcherrimin formation controls growth arrest of the Bacillus subtilis biofilm” PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116(27), pp. 13553-13562  doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1903982116 
  • Margarita Kalamara, Mihael Špacapan, Ines Mandic-Mulec *, Nicola R. Stanley-Wall * 2018 “Social behaviours by Bacillus subtilis: quorum sensing, kin discrimination and beyond” Molecular Microbiology vol. 110(6) pp. 863-878. doi: 10.1111/mmi.14127 
  • Elliot Erskine, Cait MacPhee*, and Nicola R. Stanley-Wall* 2018 “Functional Amyloid and other protein fibers in the biofilm matrix”. Journal of Molecular Biology vol. 430(20) pp 3642-3656 doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2018.07.026  
  • Sofia Arnaouteli$, Ana Sofia Ferreira$, Marieke Schor$, Ryan J. Morris, Keith M. Bromley, Jeanyoung K. Jo, Krista L. Cortez, Tetyana Sukhodub, Alan R. Prescott, Lars E. P. Dietrich, Cait E. MacPhee ^Nicola R. Stanley-Wall ^ 2017 “Bifunctionality Of A Biofilm Matrix Protein Controlled By Redox State” Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA 114 vol. 30 E6184-E6191 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1707687114.^ Joint corresponding author 
  • Highlighted Nature Reviews Microbiology 15, pp 512–513 (2017) doi:10.1038/nrmicro.2017.91 
  • Bromley, K.M., Morris, R.J., Hobley, L., Brandani, G.B., Gillespie, R.M.C., McCluskey, M., Zachariae, U., Marenduzzo, D., Stanley-Wall, N.R.*, and MacPhee, C.E.* 2015 “Interfacial self-assembly of a bacterial hydrophobin” Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110(33):13600-5. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1419016112 *Joint corresponding author 
  • Hobley, L.$, Ostrowski, A.$, Rao, F. $, Bromley, K., Porter, M., Prescott, A., MacPhee, C.E., van Aalten, D.M.F., Stanley-Wall, N.R2013 “BslA is a self-assembling bacterial hydrophobin that coats the Bacillus subtilis biofilm” Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA vol. 110(33) pp.13600-5 doi:10.1073/pnas.1306390110 *Highlighted by Nature reviews Microbiology and Recommended by F1000. 
  • Cairns, L.S., Marlow, V. L., Bissett, E., Ostrowski, A., and Stanley-Wall, N.R2013 “A mechanical signal transmitted by the flagellum controls signaling in Bacillus subtilis” Molecular Microbiology vol. 90 (1) pp 6-21  doi: 10.1111/mmi.12342 *Subject of a Micro-commentary,
  • Highlighted by Nature reviews Microbiology and Recommended by F1000. 

$ These authors contributed equally. 

* Co-corresponding author.

View full research profile and publications

Teaching

Level 2

BS22022 – course contributor and tutorial leader

  • Koch’s postulates- historical and current views.

Level 3

BS32004 – “Molecular Microbiology” – module lead 

  • Microbial diversity
  • Cell division
  • Biofilm formation
  • Controlling Sigma Factors

BS32011 – “Microbial Cell Biology” – module contact

  • Practical unit using transposon mutagenesis of Bacillus subtilis to learn about genetics, bacterial physiology, and molecular biology.

Level 4

Honours Year – annual project supervisor from 2005-current

Level 5

MSci – project supervisor from 2017-current

Public Engagement

Our laboratory studies how bacteria form biofilms. We worked with the scientific animation company Vivomotion to make an animation that explains what biofilms are and how they impact our everyday lives.

The Stanley-Wall lab actively engages in outreach activities with both school age children and members of the public. Our work has been nationally by prizes from the Society for General Microbiology (2011) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2012, 2022).

Nicola Stanley-Wall is academic lead for Public Engagement in the School of Life Sciences. Please feel free to contact us if you would like advice about organising large microbiology outreach events via sls-PublicEngagement@dundee.ac.uk

Second supervisor

Stories

Research interests

Understanding the molecular mechanism of biofilm formation

Awards

Award Year
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / Royal Society of Edinburgh Senior Public Engagement Medal 2022
PiCLS Best Mentor Award 2021
Fellow of Learned Societies and Colleges / Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 2019
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 2018
International Science Prizes awarded since 1990 / Fellow of the European Academy of Microbiologists 2018
Teaching Award for Good Practice / (Highly Commended) 2016
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / Wain Medal 2016
Brian Cox Award: Public Engagement 2014
Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology 2012
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / Royal Society of Edinburgh Patrick Neil Medal 2012
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / Royal Society of Edinburgh Beltane Prize for Public Engagement 2012
Brian Cox Award: Public Engagement / Senior Researcher 2010
Fellow of Learned Societies and Colleges / Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy 2010
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / The Fleming Award Medal of the Society for General Microbiology 2009