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Fully Funded Swansea University and Mowi Feed PhD Scholarship: Functional Microbiomes: Unravelling Diet, Environment and Host-pathogen Interactions

Swansea University - Biological Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Swansea
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £19,180 p.a. This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend of £19,180. Additional research expenses will also be available
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd December 2023
Closes: 4th March 2024

Funding providers: Swansea University's Faculty of Science and Engineering and Mowi Feed

Subject areas: Biosciences, Microbiome, Metabolomics, Host-pathogen interactions, Aquaculture, Animal health 

Project start date: 

  • 1 October 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-September)

Project description: 

Microbiota can positively influence animal physiology and health in many ways, including by enhancing nutrient uptake, immunity and pathogen resistance. At the same time, microbiomes are readily influenced by both various host and environmental factors, including diet and temperature. However, key questions remain regarding the functional nature of host-microbiome relationships and, especially, interactions with pathogens and the environment.  

Aquaculture will likely make an important contribution to future global food security, given the depletion of wild fish stocks and increasing demand for high-quality protein. Functional feeds offer great promise for improving fish health and productivity, including by enhancing nutrient uptake and pathogen resilience. This will be crucial for the sustainability of the industry, especially under climate change scenarios predicted to increase pathogen transmission. We expect that the gut microbiome plays an important role in mediating these dietary benefits, we do not yet know how.   

This PhD will focus on unravelling microbiome-pathogen interactions in Atlantic salmon, and how this relationship is shaped by diet and environment. The project represents an exciting collaboration between Swansea University and Mowi Feed, where we ultimately aim to better understand how functional feeds can improve fish health and disease resistance. All dietary & pathogen experiments will be conducted by Mowi Feed, in Norway and Scotland. The student, based in Swansea, will be focused on conducting molecular, bioinformatic and community-modelling analyses to determine microbiome-pathogen-environment interactions, including 16S rRNA sequencing, metabolomics and transcriptional profiling, as well as some in vitro microbial interaction assays.

Eligibility

Candidates must hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level in Biosciences or a related subject (microbiology, animal ecology, veterinary science or epidemiology, evolutionary, molecular or computational biology) with an emphasis existing molecular skills data analysis, or a master's with a merit (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University). Candidates with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a master’s degree. Please note that you may need to provide evidence of your English Language proficiency. 

Our aim to support students from a range of backgrounds and circumstances. Where needed, we will work with you to take into consideration reasonable project adaptations (for example to support caring responsibilities, disabilities, other significant personal circumstances) as well as flexible working and part-time study requests, to enable greater access to a PhD. All our supervisors support us with this aim, so please feel comfortable to discuss to see what is feasible. 

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations

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