Control of bacterial nitrate metabolism and nitrous oxide production by nucleic acid secondary structures (GATES_U17DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date:  1st October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Gates

Project description: 
As well as carbon dioxide (CO2), there are numerous other greenhouse gases implicated in global warming. In particular, nitrous oxide (N2O), is a greenhouse gas which has 300 times greater global warming potential than CO2 and it also contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer. Production of N2O is a bi-product of modern farming, where after applying fertilizers, soil-based bacteria consume nitrate and generate N2O. By understanding how the bacteria do this, we could potentially reduce future N2O emissions, allowing recovery of the ozone layer and help reduce global climate change.

This PhD project will involve developing an understanding of how DNA and RNA structures control nitrogen assimilation and N2O production in bacteria. The project will provide training in a wide range of biophysical, molecular biology and microbiological techniques, from characterizing the types of DNA/RNA structures, gene expression studies to ligand binding assays. Led by Dr Andrew Gates and Dr Zoë Waller, this project will be based in the School of Biological Sciences, but the student will also work with the School of Pharmacy and facilities across the Norwich Research Park.

Informal enquiries are welcomed; for further information please contact Dr Andrew Gates ( or Dr Zoë Waller (

Further reading:

  1. Luque-Almagro, V. M. et al. (2013) J. Biol. Chem. 288, 29692.
  2. Sullivan, M. J. et al. (2013) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110, 19926.
  3. Bochman, M.L. et al. (2012) Nat. Rev. Genet. 13, 770.

Person specification: The student will have, or expect to obtain a first class, 2(i) or equivalent honours degree in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Pharmacy or a related area.

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296pa – 2016/7), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

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