Elitza Tocheva

Assistant Professor

Research Classification

Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms
Functional and Structural Proteomics

Research Interests

Microbial Ultrastructure
Cryo-electron tomography and Structural Biology
bacterial physiology
Microbial Diversity
Secretion systems and Mechanisms of pathogenesis
Novel bacterial phyla

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.

Research Methodology

cryo-electron tomography
light microscopy and super-resolution
correlative light and electron microscopy


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round
I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).
I am interested in hiring Co-op students for research placements.

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Structural and functional characterization of the ESX-3 secretion system in mycobacteria (2023)

Mycobacteria, including the pathogenic species Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), possess a unique cell envelope structure that confers resistance to environmental stresses and antimicrobial agents. Mtb, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), is a global health concern with increasing drug resistance. The ESX-3 secretion system found in Mtb and other mycobacteria plays a crucial role in the secretion of effector proteins that confer pathogenicity. This thesis focuses on studying the ESX-3 secretion system in mycobacteria by: 1) determining the localization of the secreted substrates PE5-PPE4 in M. smegmatis, and 2) characterizing the in vivo structure of the ESX-3 from Mtb. Briefly, the ESX-3 substrate PPE4 was found localized to the MOM of M. smegmatis, and ESX-3 from Mtb was found to localize to the poles of M. marinum forming a putative trans envelope structure. Together, this research contributes to our understanding of the role of ESX-3 in pathogenicity of mycobacteria and may inform the development of novel TB treatments that inhibit secretion via the ESX-3.

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