PhD Studentship: Molecular ecology of isoprene degrading bacteria: a missing link in the global isoprene cycle (MURRELL_U16ERC2)

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Science

Start Date: Jan, April or July 2017

Closes: 31 January 2017

Supervisor: Prof Colin Murrell

Project description: Isoprene is a very important climate-active compound with both global warming and cooling effects. Globally, trees emit around 600 million tonnes of isoprene per year yet little is known about its biogeochemical cycle. Microbes in soils and on leaves may be important in removal of isoprene in the biosphere before it gets released to the atmosphere. This PhD studentship is funded through an ERC Advanced Grant entitled Bacterial isoprene metabolism: a missing link in a key global biogeochemical cycle. The aim is to understand the metabolism and ecological importance of biological isoprene degradation and to test the hypothesis that isoprene degrading bacteria play a crucial role in the biogeochemical isoprene cycle, thus mitigate the effects of this climate-active gas.

Key goals are to examine the distribution, diversity and activity of isoprene-degrading bacteria in the terrestrial environment and in association with isoprene-emitting trees using cutting edge techniques in molecular microbial ecology such as DNA stable isotope probing, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, single cell genomics and Raman microscopy.  Specific aims are to find out where isoprene-degrading bacteria thrive in the environment; how their activity is regulated in the environment, the contribution they make in global biogeochemical cycling of isoprene.

The successful applicant will join a vibrant and productive lab working on microbial physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics and ecology of microbes important in biogeochemical cycles (see:

Enthusiastic and highly motivated candidates should have at least a BSc Hons degree at the level of 2.1 or above in Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Ecology, Environmental Sciences or related sciences. Further experience at Masters/research level in environmental microbiology/molecular microbial ecology would be an advantage.

The studentship can start on 1 April or 1 July 2017. For further information contact Colin Murrell (

Person specification: Minimum 2:1 entry in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Biological Sciences, Environmental Microbiology, Microbial Ecology

Funding notes: This PhD studentship is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) for four years. Funding is available to EU applicants only and includes tuition fees and an annual stipend of £14,296.

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South East England