PhD Studentship: Blooming algae and the chemical ecology of the Norfolk Broads (FIELD_J17DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Sciences

Start Date:  1st October 2017

Supervisor: Prof. Rob Field

Project description: Harmful algal blooms are a seasonal occurrence on the Norfolk Broads, resulting in mass fish deaths if they are not anticipated and carefully managed. Bloom toxicity is associated with the algae releasing a fish-killing natural product toxin, the nature of which is only just becoming apparent. One of the goals of the Norwich Research Park team is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which algal blooms occur (nature and impact of environmental stimuli) and the underlieing chemical mechanisms by which they become toxic to fish. We have recently established that algal infection with virus is associated will cell lysis and toxin release: we now want to understand the biochemical mechanisms by which the virus binds to and infects algae, resulting in toxin release. And on a broader front, we wish to explore the distribution and levels of toxic algae and associated microorganisms in the Broads using genomics approaches, in order to develop surveillance and mitigation strategies. 

This project forms part of an established collaboration, comprising >20 postdocs and students with complementary expertise in algal biology, natural products and analytical biochemistry, genomics technologies and environmental microbiology. The project would suit an ambitious student who is keen to work across disciplines. No background in algal biology is required; while experience in practical biochemistry, molecular biology or analytical chemistry would be advantageous, full training will be given. The project, which will be carried out in close collaboration with local stakeholders including the Environment Agency, the Broads Authority, the angling and boating communities, will provide opportunities for fundamental academic discovery as well as roll-out to end-users.

Person specification: Minimum entry 2:1

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296 pa – 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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South East England