Liz Sockett

Renee Elizabeth (Liz) Sockett FRS is a professor and microbiologist in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham.[1][2][3] She is a world-leading expert on Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, a species of predatory bacteria.[4][5]

Liz Sockett

Renee Elizabeth Sockett

1962 (age 57–58)
Alma materUniversity of Leeds (BSc)
University College London (PhD)
AwardsDaiwa Adrian Prize (2007)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Oxford
University of Nottingham
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
ThesisBiochemistry of motility and taxis in purple photosynthetic bacteria (1986)

Early life and educationEdit

Sockett was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1962 and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry at the University of Leeds in 1983.[6] She moved to University College London (UCL) for her postgraduate study, and was awarded a PhD in 1986 for research on the biochemistry of motility and taxis in purple bacteria.[7]

Career and researchEdit

After completing her PhD, Sockett worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (1986-1988)[citation needed] and then the University of Oxford (1988-1990)[citation needed]. In 1991, she was appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Nottingham and subsequently promoted to senior lecturer in 2001, Reader in 2004 and Professor in 2005.[8]

Her research group started by studying the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Her interests in bacterial physiology and mechanisms then turned to understanding the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus.[9][4] Bdellovibrio preys upon a wide range of bacteria including antibiotic-resistant pathogens that are harmful to human health. Sockett's lab have studied the genome of Bdellovibrio during the invasion of other bacteria.[6] Her group has identified several Bdellovibrio genes that make enzymes which break down important structural components of bacteria, and also secrete enzymes that break down chromosomes.[10] She is studying the application of predatory bacteria like Bdellovibrio to treat antimicrobial-resistant infections.[11]

Sockett's group worked together with Alexandra Willis and her PhD supervisor[citation needed] Serge Mostowy [Wikidata] at Imperial College London to study Bdellovibrio predation in a zebrafish infection model.[citation needed] Zebrafish infected with a lethal dose of the antibiotic-resistant human pathogen Shigella flexneri were given Bdellovibrio as a treatment. Together, the researchers showed that Bdellovibrio could kill the Shigella, working synergistically with the zebrafishs' own immune system to promote zebrafish survival.[12][13][14]

Sockett and her group collaborated with Erkin Kuru at Indiana University Bloomington, using fluorescent D-amino acids (FDAAs) to illuminate the mechanisms by which Bdellovibrio invades its prey. They discovered that Bdellovibrio forms a small reinforced 'porthole' in the cell wall of its prey through which it squeezes and then re-seals from the inside [15][16].

She also has long-standing collaborations with Andrew Lovering at the University of Birmingham, who studies the structural biology of predatory Bdellovibrio enzymes, and Waldemar Vollmer at Newcastle University, who studies the structure of bacterial cell walls.[citation needed]

As part of a Human Frontier Science Program grant, Sockett collaborated with Shin-Ichi Aizawa to study the Bdellovibrio interaction with Escherichia coli.[17] Her strains appeared in electron microscope images in the 2013 book The Flagellar World.[18]

Her research has been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Leverhulme Trust and the Wellcome Trust.[citation needed]

Sockett is a communicator and role model for careers in microbiology, which was recognised by the award of the Peter Wildy prize of the Society for General Microbiology in 2006, where her prize lecture was entitled Not Just Germs - Bringing Bacteria to Life.[19]

Socket is an advocate for public engagement and science outreach.[20]

Awards and honoursEdit

Sockett was interviewed on The Life Scientific by Jim Al-Khalili in 2017.[6] Other awards and honours include:


  1. ^ Liz Sockett publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Liz Sockett publications from Europe PubMed Central
  3. ^ Sharp, P. M. (2005). "Variation in the strength of selected codon usage bias among bacteria". Nucleic Acids Research. 33 (4): 1141–1153. doi:10.1093/nar/gki242. ISSN 1362-4962. PMC 549432. PMID 15728743.
  4. ^ a b Sockett, Renee Elizabeth (2009). "Predatory lifestyle of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus". Annual Review of Microbiology. 63: 523–539. doi:10.1146/annurev.micro.091208.073346. ISSN 1545-3251. PMID 19575566.
  5. ^ Rendulic, S. (2004). "A Predator Unmasked: Life Cycle of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus from a Genomic Perspective". Science. 303 (5658): 689–692. Bibcode:2004Sci...303..689R. doi:10.1126/science.1093027. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 14752164.  
  6. ^ a b c Al-Khalili, Jim (2017). "Liz Sockett on friendly killer bacteria: The Life Scientific". BBC. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  7. ^ Socket, Renee Elizabeth (1986). Biochemistry of motility and taxis in purple photosynthetic bacteria. (PhD thesis). University of London. OCLC 941031856.
  8. ^ "Liz Sockett - The University of Nottingham". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  9. ^ a b "Elizabeth Sockett". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  10. ^ "Dr. Liz Sockett Interview". Naked Scientists. 12 December 2004. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  11. ^ "Predatory Bdellovibrio bacteria-evolution of predation and application of predators against AMR infection". University of Oxford. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  12. ^ Willis, Alexandra R.; Moore, Christopher; Mazon-Moya, Maria; Krokowski, Sina; Lambert, Carey; Till, Robert; Mostowy, Serge; Sockett, R. Elizabeth (2016). "Injections of Predatory Bacteria Work Alongside Host Immune Cells to Treat Shigella Infection in Zebrafish Larvae". Current Biology. 26 (24): 3343–3351. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.09.067. ISSN 0960-9822. PMC 5196024. PMID 27889262.
  13. ^ Anon (2016). "How bacteria attack superbugs". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  14. ^ "Harnessing the power of predatory bacteria as a 'living antibiotic'". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  15. ^ Kuru, Erkin; Lambert, Carey; Rittichier, Jonathan; Till, Rob; Ducret, Adrien; Derouaux, Adeline; Gray, Joe; Biboy, Jacob; Vollmer, Waldemar (2018-01-08). "Author Correction: Fluorescent d-amino-acids reveal bi-cellular cell wall modifications important for Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus predation". Nature Microbiology. 3 (2): 254. doi:10.1038/s41564-017-0087-1. ISSN 2058-5276. PMID 29311645.
  16. ^ "Predatory bacteria that engineer 'portholes' and paint 'frescoes' in harmful bacteria". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  17. ^ "Shadowing the actions of a predator". Human Frontier Science Program. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  18. ^ Aizawa, Shin-Ichi (2013). The Flagellar World: Electron Microscopic Images of Bacterial Flagella and Related Surface Structures. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0124172838. OCLC 885024658.
  19. ^ Anon (2006). "Peter Wildy Prize Lecture". Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  20. ^ "Biology CPD for Science Teachers in the East Midlands: Professor Liz Sockett". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  21. ^ "Liz Sockett | Royal Society". Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  22. ^ Anon (2017). "Honor for UK-Japanese research". EurekAlert!. Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  23. ^ Anon (2006). "Peter Wildy Prize Lecture". Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  24. ^ Anon (2000). "Lord Dearing Award winners". University of Nottingham. Retrieved 2018-09-23.