PhD Studentship: A Multidisciplinary Study of Bacterial DMSP Production via a Novel Pathway (TODD_U18DTP1)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date: 1st October 2018

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Jonathan Todd

Project description: Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is one of the Earth’s most abundant organosulfur compounds. It is an antistress compound with key roles in global nutrient and sulfur cycling, signaling and climate. It was thought that only marine eukaryotes produce DMSP, but we have shown that many marine heterotrophic bacteria also produce DMSP. We have identified the first genes for DMSP synthesis in these bacteria allowing this PhD to explore new exciting molecular ventures into how and why microbes produce DMSP.

The PhD: The project will use marine bacteria that produce high cellular levels of DMSP as models to investigate the process. The student will be taught how to grow and study the physiology of model marine bacteria. Using analytical chemistry, they will establish and characterise the bacterial DMSP biosynthetic pathway. Molecular genetics will be used to validate and mutate the key DMSP synthesis genes to confirm their role in this process. The student will study whether environmental conditions affect DMSP production and the transcription of the DMSP synthesis genes to potentially determine the role/s of DMSP in our model bacteria. Finally, using molecular ecology tools, the student will monitor DMSP production, the diversity and abundance of DMSP-producing bacteria and the key bacterial synthesis genes in natural marine environments. For this training will be provided in metagenomics, the use of gene probes and environmental sampling. This PhD will strengthen our ability to assess the effects of e.g., climate change on DMSP cycling, and the significance of bacterial DMSP production.

Training: Training will be provided at UEA by Brearley, Murrell, Pratscher and Todd in bacteriology, biochemistry, molecular ecology, bioinformatics and metabolomics.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website: www.biodtp.norwichresearchpark.ac.uk

Person specification: Standard minimum entry requirements: UK 2:1 or equivalent.

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa – 2017/8), 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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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South East England