Unlocking silent bacterial biosynthesis pathways through epigenetics (GANESAN_U17DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Pharmacy

Start Date:  1st October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Prof A Ganesan 

Project description:
Microorganisms are a bountiful source of secondary metabolite natural products that often contain unique chemical structures and biological activity. Many microbial natural products are of economic value in agriculture, fine chemicals, cosmetics, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Nevertheless, the natural products that can be obtained under laboratory fermentation conditions represent only a small percentage of the total and many gene clusters coding for the biosynthesis of natural products are silent. The ability to activate such silenced pathways will lead to the exciting discovery of novel natural products.

In this project, we will focus on myxobacteria (gliding bacteria) which are prolific producers of natural products and activate their biosynthetic pathways through epigenetic modulators. These are compounds that selectively affect DNA and histone-modifying enzymes or the binding of the nucleosome to protein partners. The project will be in collaboration with the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig who are internationally leading in myxobacteria research. Preliminary results have already demonstrated proof of concept and the first part of the project will involve optimising conditions and working out the molecular basis of epigenetic modulation in myxobacteria. The second part will be a wider screen of myxobacterial strains for their response to epigenetic cues and identifcation of novel natural products and their biological profiling. The project will provide excellent training in microbiology, molecular biology and natural product research and you will be part of a wider community of scientists with similar research areas within the Norwich Research Park.

Person specification: Minimum entry 2:1

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: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf

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South East England