Professor Waldemar Vollmer

Professorial Research Fellow & Grou

Institute for Molecular Bioscience
w.vollmer@imb.uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 62055

Overview

Overview

Professor Waldemar Vollmer is a microbiologist working on the structure and biogenesis of the bacterial cell wall in various model bacteria and a range of pathogenic and environmental bacteria. He is particularly interested in how bacteria enlarge their cell wall when they grow and divide, and how antibiotics inhibit cell wall synthesis to kill bacteria. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global problem that is predicted to claim 10 million lives annually by the year 2050 if no new antibiotics are developed. Currently the pipeline of antibiotic development is almost empty and mostly limited to slightly modified versions to existing antibiotics. Professor Vollmer addresses the problem of AMR by generating tailored assays for the development of novel antibiotics that target AMR bacteria.

Collaborations: Professor Vollmer collaborates world-wide with more than 50 researchers at top national and international institutions on cell wall topics in over 30 different bacteria. These topics include: structure and composition of the cell wall and its role in maintaining cell morphology; molecular mechanisms of cell envelope biogenesis; role of new cell wall modifying enzymes in the interaction of pathogenic bacteria with components of the immune system; mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and targeting of cell wall biogenesis by new antibiotics.

Funding and Publications: Professor Vollmer has been awarded more than $15 million funding from research councils and charities in Germany, UK, Europe and USA. He has published more than 200 articles in international journals and has been recognised as a Highly Cited Researcher in Microbiology.

Honours and Awards: Professor Vollmer has been elected to Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2014) and European Academy of Microbiology (2018). He received the annual Academic Distinction Awards from the Vice Chancellor of Newcastle University (2014), has been awarded a Distinguished Scientist Visiting Scholarships at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel, 2012) and a Visiting Professorship at the University of Cagliari (Italy, 2015), and won a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award (2014). He has co-organised the 2018 Gordon Conference (GRC) "Bacterial Cell Surfaces" (Mt Snow, USA) and the 2016 EMBO Workshop "Bacterial Cell Division: Orchestrating the Ring Cycle" (Prague, Czech Republic).

Short Biography: Prof Waldemar Vollmer has studied chemistry at the University of Applied Sciences in Reutlingen (Germany) and University of Basel (Switzerland). In 1998 he obtained a PhD degree (Dr.rer.nat.) from the University of Tübingen (Germany) for his work on cell wall synthesis in the model bacterium Escherichia coli undertaken at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. During his postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller University (New York, USA) he discovered novel cell wall enzymes that are crucial for the virulence of the pathogenic bacterium Streptococcus pneumoiae. In 2003 he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Tübingen and moved 2007 to the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology at Newcastle University (UK), where he worked as Professor of Bacterial Biochemistry on various bacterial cell wall topics in a range of different bacteria. Since April 2023 he is Professorial Research Fellow and Group Leader at the Centre for Superbug Solutions, Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at the University of Queensland.

Research Impacts

Professor Vollmer's basic research on the bacterial cell envelope has led to key advances in our understanding of bacterial cell function and has discovered molecular mechanisms that can be exploited for antibiotic development.

Key research outputs: Prof Vollmer's group has discovered mechanisms of PG biosynthesis and its regulation, novel cell wall enzymes, and mechanisms of coordination between PG synthesis and outer membrane biogenesis. These discoveries provided the first molecular insights into how bacteria robustly maintain, enlarge and modify their cell envelope when they propagate in diverse environments and under stress conditions, and when exposed to antibiotics.

Key capabilities: Prof Vollmer's group is expert in the analysis of the composition of peptidoglycan, the key shape-maintaining and stress-bearing component of the bacterial cell envelope. They also discover new cell wall enzymes and study the activities and interactions of of key cell wall synthases and hydrolases (lysins or autolysins). They are also expert in determining the cleavage site of cell wall-degrading lysins and establishing biochemical assays for cell wall enzymes, for studying their inhibition by antibiotics. They combine their molecular biology work with studies on the physiology of bacterial cells impaired in cell wall biogenesis.

Publications

  • Mamou, Gideon, Corona, Federico, Cohen-Khait, Ruth, Housden, Nicholas G., Yeung, Vivian, Sun, Dawei, Sridhar, Pooja, Pazos, Manuel, Knowles, Timothy J., Kleanthous, Colin and Vollmer, Waldemar (2022). Peptidoglycan maturation controls outer membrane protein assembly. Nature, 606 (7916), 953-959. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04834-7

  • Hernandez-Rocamora, Victor M., Baranova, Natalia, Peters, Katharina, Breukink, Eefjan, Loose, Martin and Vollmer, Waldemar (2021). Real-time monitoring of peptidoglycan synthesis by membrane-reconstituted penicillin-binding proteins. eLife, 10, 1-32. doi: 10.7554/eLife.61525

  • Egan, Alexander J. F., Errington, Jeff and Vollmer, Waldemar (2020). Regulation of peptidoglycan synthesis and remodelling. Nature Reviews. Microbiology, 18 (8), 446-460. doi: 10.1038/s41579-020-0366-3

  • Banzhaf, Manuel, Yau, Hamish C. L., Verheul, Jolanda, Lodge, Adam, Kritikos, George, Mateus, Andre, Cordier, Baptiste, Hov, Ann Kristin, Stein, Frank, Wartel, Morgane, Pazos, Manuel, Solovyova, Alexandra S., Breukink, Eefjan, van Teeffelen, Sven, Savitski, Mikhail M., den Blaauwen, Tanneke, Typas, Athanasios and Vollmer, Waldemar (2020). Outer membrane lipoprotein NlpI scaffolds peptidoglycan hydrolases within multi-enzyme complexes in Escherichia coli. The EMBO Journal, 39 (5) e102246, 1-20. doi: 10.15252/embj.2019102246

  • Pazos, Manuel, Peters, Katharina, Casanova, Mercedes, Palacios, Pilar, VanNieuwenhze, Michael, Breukink, Eefjan, Vicente, Miguel and Vollmer, Waldemar (2018). Z-ring membrane anchors associate with cell wall synthases to initiate bacterial cell division. Nature Communications, 9 (1) 5090. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07559-2

  • Peters, Katharina, Pazos, Manuel, Edoo, Zainab, Hugonnet, Jean-Emmanuel, Martorana, Alessandra M., Polissi, Alessandra, VanNieuwenhze, Michael S., Arthur, Michel and Vollmer, Waldemar (2018). Copper inhibits peptidoglycan LD-transpeptidases suppressing beta-lactam resistance due to bypass of penicillin-binding proteins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115 (42), 10786-10791. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1809285115

  • Gray, Andrew N., Egan, Alexander J. F., van't Veer, Inge L., Verheul, Jolanda, Colavin, Alexandre, Koumoutsi, Alexandra, Biboy, Jacob, Altelaar, A. F. Maarten, Damen, Mirjam J., Huang, Kerwyn Casey, Simorre, Jean-Pierre, Breukink, Eefjan, den Blaauwen, Tanneke, Typas, Athanasios, Gross, Carol A. and Vollmer, Waldemar (2015). Coordination of peptidoglycan synthesis and outer membrane constriction during Escherichia coli cell division. Elife, 4 e07118. doi: 10.7554/eLife.07118

  • Egan, Alexander J. F., Jean, Nicolas L., Koumoutsi, Alexandra, Bougault, Catherine M., Biboy, Jacob, Sassine, Jad, Solovyova, Alexandra S., Breukink, Eefjan, Typas, Athanasios, Vollmer, Waldemar and Simorre, Jean-Pierre (2014). Outer-membrane lipoprotein LpoB spans the periplasm to stimulate the peptidoglycan synthase PBP1B. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111 (22), 8197-8202. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1400376111

  • Typas, Athanasios, Banzhaf, Manuel, van Saparoea, Bart van den Berg, Verheul, Jolanda, Biboy, Jacob, Nichols, Robert J., Zietek, Matylda, Beilharz, Katrin, Kannenberg, Kai, von Rechenberg, Moritz, Breukink, Eefjan, den Blaauwen, Tanneke, Gross, Carol A. and Vollmer, Waldemar (2010). Regulation of Peptidoglycan Synthesis by Outer-Membrane Proteins. Cell, 143 (7), 1097-1109. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.11.038

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Publications

Featured Publications

  • Mamou, Gideon, Corona, Federico, Cohen-Khait, Ruth, Housden, Nicholas G., Yeung, Vivian, Sun, Dawei, Sridhar, Pooja, Pazos, Manuel, Knowles, Timothy J., Kleanthous, Colin and Vollmer, Waldemar (2022). Peptidoglycan maturation controls outer membrane protein assembly. Nature, 606 (7916), 953-959. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04834-7

  • Hernandez-Rocamora, Victor M., Baranova, Natalia, Peters, Katharina, Breukink, Eefjan, Loose, Martin and Vollmer, Waldemar (2021). Real-time monitoring of peptidoglycan synthesis by membrane-reconstituted penicillin-binding proteins. eLife, 10, 1-32. doi: 10.7554/eLife.61525

  • Egan, Alexander J. F., Errington, Jeff and Vollmer, Waldemar (2020). Regulation of peptidoglycan synthesis and remodelling. Nature Reviews. Microbiology, 18 (8), 446-460. doi: 10.1038/s41579-020-0366-3

  • Banzhaf, Manuel, Yau, Hamish C. L., Verheul, Jolanda, Lodge, Adam, Kritikos, George, Mateus, Andre, Cordier, Baptiste, Hov, Ann Kristin, Stein, Frank, Wartel, Morgane, Pazos, Manuel, Solovyova, Alexandra S., Breukink, Eefjan, van Teeffelen, Sven, Savitski, Mikhail M., den Blaauwen, Tanneke, Typas, Athanasios and Vollmer, Waldemar (2020). Outer membrane lipoprotein NlpI scaffolds peptidoglycan hydrolases within multi-enzyme complexes in Escherichia coli. The EMBO Journal, 39 (5) e102246, 1-20. doi: 10.15252/embj.2019102246

  • Pazos, Manuel, Peters, Katharina, Casanova, Mercedes, Palacios, Pilar, VanNieuwenhze, Michael, Breukink, Eefjan, Vicente, Miguel and Vollmer, Waldemar (2018). Z-ring membrane anchors associate with cell wall synthases to initiate bacterial cell division. Nature Communications, 9 (1) 5090. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07559-2

  • Peters, Katharina, Pazos, Manuel, Edoo, Zainab, Hugonnet, Jean-Emmanuel, Martorana, Alessandra M., Polissi, Alessandra, VanNieuwenhze, Michael S., Arthur, Michel and Vollmer, Waldemar (2018). Copper inhibits peptidoglycan LD-transpeptidases suppressing beta-lactam resistance due to bypass of penicillin-binding proteins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115 (42), 10786-10791. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1809285115

  • Gray, Andrew N., Egan, Alexander J. F., van't Veer, Inge L., Verheul, Jolanda, Colavin, Alexandre, Koumoutsi, Alexandra, Biboy, Jacob, Altelaar, A. F. Maarten, Damen, Mirjam J., Huang, Kerwyn Casey, Simorre, Jean-Pierre, Breukink, Eefjan, den Blaauwen, Tanneke, Typas, Athanasios, Gross, Carol A. and Vollmer, Waldemar (2015). Coordination of peptidoglycan synthesis and outer membrane constriction during Escherichia coli cell division. Elife, 4 e07118. doi: 10.7554/eLife.07118

  • Egan, Alexander J. F., Jean, Nicolas L., Koumoutsi, Alexandra, Bougault, Catherine M., Biboy, Jacob, Sassine, Jad, Solovyova, Alexandra S., Breukink, Eefjan, Typas, Athanasios, Vollmer, Waldemar and Simorre, Jean-Pierre (2014). Outer-membrane lipoprotein LpoB spans the periplasm to stimulate the peptidoglycan synthase PBP1B. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111 (22), 8197-8202. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1400376111

  • Typas, Athanasios, Banzhaf, Manuel, van Saparoea, Bart van den Berg, Verheul, Jolanda, Biboy, Jacob, Nichols, Robert J., Zietek, Matylda, Beilharz, Katrin, Kannenberg, Kai, von Rechenberg, Moritz, Breukink, Eefjan, den Blaauwen, Tanneke, Gross, Carol A. and Vollmer, Waldemar (2010). Regulation of Peptidoglycan Synthesis by Outer-Membrane Proteins. Cell, 143 (7), 1097-1109. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.11.038

Book Chapter

  • Vollmer, W. (2024). Bacterial cell walls: peptidoglycan. Molecular medical microbiology. (pp. 45-67) edited by Yi-Wei Tang, Musa Hindiyeh, Dongyou Liu, Andrew Sails, Paul Spearman and Jingren Zhang. Cambridge, MA, United States: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-818619-0.00015-0

  • Vollmer, Waldemar, Massidda, Orietta and Tomasz, Alexander (2019). The cell wall of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Gram-positive pathogens. (pp. 284-303) edited by Vincent A. Fischetti, Richard P. Novick, Joseph J. Ferretti, Daniel A. Portnoy, Miriam Braunstein and Julian I. Rood. Washington, DC United States: American Society for Microbiology. doi: 10.1128/9781683670131.ch18

  • Egan, Alexander J. F. and Vollmer, Waldemar (2016). Continuous Fluorescence Assay for Peptidoglycan Glycosyltransferases. Bacterial Cell Wall Homeostasis: Methods and Protocols. (pp. 171-184) edited by Hong, HJ. New York, NY United States: Humana Press. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-3676-2_13

  • Gisch, Nicolas, Peters, Katharina, Zähringer, Ulrich and Vollmer, Waldemar (2015). The pneumococcal cell wall. Streptococcus pneumoniae: molecular mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions . (pp. 145-167) edited by Jeremy Brown, Sven Hammerschmidt and Carlos Orihuela. Cambridge, MA United States: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-410530-0.00008-9

  • Vollmer, Waldemar (2015). Peptidoglycan. Molecular medical microbiology. (pp. 105-124) edited by Yi-Wei Tang, Dongyou Liu, Max Sussman, Ian Poxton and Joseph Schwartzman. Cambridge, MA United States: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-397169-2.00006-8

  • Derouaux, Adeline, Terrak, Mohammed, den Blaauwen, Tanneke and Vollmer, Waldemar (2014). Bacterial cell wall growth, shape and division. Bacterial membranes: structural and molecular biology. (pp. 3-54) edited by Han Remaut and Rémi Fronzes. Poole, United Kingdom: Caister Academic Press.

  • Vollmer, Waldemar (2013). Murein peptide amidase MpaA. Handbook of proteolytic enzymes. (pp. 1383-1385) edited by Neil D. Rawlings and Guy Salvesen. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-382219-2.00310-0

  • Vollmer, Waldemar and Born, Petra (2010). Bacterial cell envelope peptidoglycan. Microbial glycobiology. (pp. 15-28) edited by Otto Holst, Patrick J. Brennan and Mark von Itzstein. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-374546-0.00002-x

  • Vollmer, W. (2007). Preparation and analysis of pneumococcal murein (peptidoglycan). Molecular Biology of Streptococci. (pp. 531-535) edited by Regine Hakenbeck and Singh Chhatwal. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

  • Vollmer, W. (2007). Structure and biosynthesis of the pneumococcal cell wall. Molecular Biology of Streptococci. (pp. 83-117) edited by Regine Hakenbeck and Singh Chhatwal. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

  • Vollmer, Waldemar (2006). Structure and Biosynthesis of the Murein (Peptidoglycan) Sacculus. The Periplasm. (pp. 198-213) edited by Michael Ehrmann. Washington, DC United States: ASM Press. doi: 10.1128/9781555815806.ch11

  • Vollmer, Waldemar (2006). Cytoskeletal elements in prokaryotes. Complex intracellular structures in prokaryotes. (pp. 305-311) edited by Jessup M. Shively. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. doi: 10.1007/7171_029

  • Heidrich, C. and Vollmer, W. (2002). Murein (Peptidoglycan). Biopolymers, Polysaccharides I: Polysaccharides from Prokaryotes. (pp. 431-463) edited by Alexander Steinbüchel, Erick J. Vandamme, Martin Hofrichter and Sophie De Baets. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley.

  • von Rechenberg, M., Vollmer, W. and Höltje, J.V. (2001). A multienzyme complex involved in murein synthesis of Escherichia coli. Microbial fundamentals of biotechnology. (pp. 249-262) edited by Volkmar Braun and Friedrich Götz. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley.

  • Höltje, J.V., Schiffer, G., Vollmer, W. and von Rechenberg, M. (1998). Growth of the bacterial sacculus requires both polymerization and depolymerization of murein. Biochemical principles and mechanisms of biosynthesis and biodegradation of polymers. (pp. 68-76) edited by A. Steinbüchel. Münster, Germany: Wiley.

Journal Article

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors: