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PhD Studentship: Do Climate-active Gases Sustain Bacteria in Australian Tropical Rainforest Soils?

University of East Anglia - Biology

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: International Students
Funding amount: please see advert text
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th November 2021
Closes: 19th January 2022
Reference: HERNANDEZ_BIO22CDCC

Background

Atmospheric trace gases are important drivers of climate change. Some, such as methane (CH4) have a direct impact on global warming, whereas others, such as carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2), have important secondary effects on atmospheric chemistry driving climate change. Some soil microorganisms consume these trace gases, removing significant amounts from the atmosphere. This process has not been investigated in tropical ecosystems despite their high biodiversity and elevated trace gas levels. To resolve this, the PhD project will study the microbial oxidation of atmospheric trace gases in the Wet Tropics Rainforest, Australia, the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest in the world. The student will isolate and characterise H2- and CO-oxidising bacteria belonging to the Chloroflexi, as well as aiming to isolate the first CH4-consuming bacteria from the Gemmatimonadotes. Related to the objectives of this CDCC-LDS programme, we will develop methods for measuring real-time atmospheric trace gases that serve to capture information on evolving trends in carbon emissions, climate impacts, and their drivers using cutting-edge techniques. While revealing feedback mechanisms relevant to climate change amid the growing impacts of deforestation and global warming on rainforests, this project will improve the understanding of the productivity, biodiversity, and biogeochemistry of rainforest ecosystems.

The project 

The student will determine how bacteria are able to oxidise climate-active gases CH4, CO, and H2 in tropical rainforest. Soil incubations will be performed and trace-gases will be measured. The student will be trained in cutting-edge tools for isolation of microbes, whole-genome sequencing, metagenomics, and bioinformatics.

Training

The student will receive training in experimental design and data analyses, and will learn molecular microbial techniques such as DNA sequencing and whole genome sequencing. Specific training will include the cultivation of soil bacteria, whole genome sequencing and (meta)genomic analysis. The student will present their results at lab meetings, departmental seminars, and at national and international conferences.

Person specification

We are looking for a pro-active, highly motivated student willing to join sampling campaigns in Australian rainforest actively . The successful candidate should have a strong background in Microbial, Soil or Environmental Sciences (BSc/Masters in Soil Microbiology, Environmental Microbiology, Biogeochemistry, bioinformatics or similar).

Primary Supervisor :  Dr Marcela Hernandez

Start date: 1/10/2022

For more information on this project, please visit http://www.uea.ac.uk

Funding

Successful candidates will be awarded a 4-year studentship covering tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£15,609 per year in 2021/22) and funds to support the research project and associated training. Additional funds are not available to assist with relocation or visa costs.

We anticipate that up to two awards will be made to international students for October 2022 entry.

Part-time studentship awards are subject to approval by the Leverhulme Trust.

For more information about the ‘Critical Decade’ programme click here.

This project has been selected for the Critical Decade for Climate Change programme, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online interview, to be held late February/early March 2022. 

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