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A balancing act: how do hosts control metal availability to their microbiota?

   Department of Biosciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The harmonious relationship between hosts and their microbiota has coevolved over millions of years, but this symbiosis is under constant threat by exposure to harmful microbes that can cause dysbiosis.

Metals are micronutrients for all partners in host-microbe symbioses (hosts, beneficial mutualists, opportunistic pathogens). Too little of any metal will cause starvation, but too much will cause toxicity. How hosts balance the dual roles of metals as nutrients and toxins to simultaneously support beneficial mutualists and suppress harmful pathogens is unknown.


This project aims to investigate how the human host controls metal ions, particularly copper, to govern the assembly, dynamics, stability, and vulnerability of the microbiota, particularly within the human oral cavity.


You will be based at the primary supervisor’s laboratory in Durham University and work at collaborators’ laboratories at Newcastle University to conduct key components of the study.

Training will be provided in techniques and concepts that span the breadth of biosciences, including microbial genetics, molecular microbiology, microbial physiology, recombinant protein production and characterisation, functional analysis of proteins, and biophysical methods for metal analyses. 

Funding Notes

Funding for the project is guaranteed (open to UK candidates only) the successful candidate will be funded for a total of 4 years.
If you are interested in applying, in the first instance please contact Dr Karrera Djoko with a CV and a covering letter, detailing your reasons for applying for this project.

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