Plant cell wall hydrogels: from understanding structure to functional applications (KHIMYAK_U17DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Pharmacy

Start Date: 1st October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Prof. Yaroslav Khimyak 

Project description: 
A PhD studentship aiming at elucidation of structural and functional heterogeneities in plant cell wall hydrogels using advanced NMR and computational modelling approaches is available to carry out as a collaborative project between School of Pharmacy in UEA and IFR.  

Plant cell walls (PCW) represent a wide diversity of materials generated from crop and plant residues with huge potential for applications as biofuels and important source of dietary fibre in human foods. PCW consist of several different polysaccharides (cellulose, xyloglucan, pectin, beta-glucan etc.) which are assembled into a hierarchical structure with high levels of heterogeneities resulting from the diversity of polysaccharide components, the complexity of their interactions with each other and the presence of domains of different levels of ordering (i.e. amorphous, semi-crystalline and ordered regions). The detailed assessment of structural and functional heterogeneities in PCW mimics will be important for understanding the mechanism of formation of PCW and correlating the strength and extent of inter-chain interaction with mechanical properties of PCW.

Based on the unique NMR infrastructure in NRP, we will use multiphase NMR spectroscopy to assess PCW hydrogels across different lengths scales and dynamic regimes. A very high complexity of PCW will be tackled by our unique experimental expertise linking structural and biosynthetic approaches across different length scales and dynamics heterogeneities. This project is also an excellent training opportunity for a young scientist to gain research skills in both the preparation and advanced characterisation of novel biomaterials. 

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:

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