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Application of Bacteriophages in Biocontrol

School of Applied Sciences

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Dr S Foley No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses that specifically infect and kill bacteria. Due to bacterial genus, species and strain specificity, phages offer the potential for targeted ‘knock-out’ of a species of interest in a multispecies community thereby facilitating elucidation of the specific contribution of individual species to the community and providing a tool for control of undesirable bacterial populations (i.e. biocontrol). The project will investigate the application of phages in one of the following contexts -
- application of phages to the control of bacterial pathogens and food spoilage organisms in fresh plant produce
- impact of phages on mutans streptococci in dental biofilms and, in so doing, develop phages as a tool to both understand and control oral biofilm development
- impact of phages on antimicrobial resistance and bacterial communities in wastewater treatment
- prospecting and analysis of phage-derived proteins with bactericidal/bacteriostatic effects on selected bacterial pathogens of relevance to human and animal health

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Microbiology/Molecualr Biology with a good fundamental knowledge of techniques used to study microorganisms

English Language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes
Experience of fundamental microbiology laboratory skills
Competent in data analysis, MS Office
Knowledge of molecular biology
Good written and oral communication skills
Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project.
Good time management

Desirable attributes
Good numeracy and statistical skills; Bioinformatics

Funding Notes

Self funded students only


Buttimer C, McAuliffe O, Ross RP, Hill C, O'Mahony J, and Coffey A. (2017) Bacteriophages and bacterial plant diseases. Front Microbiol. 8:34. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00034

Lood R, Ertürk G and Mattiasson B (2017) Revisiting antibiotic resistance spreading in wastewater treatment plants ‐ bacteriophages as a much neglected potential transmission vehicle. Front Microbiol 8:2298. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02298

Mathieu J, Yu P, Zuo P, Da Silva MLB and Alvarez PJJ (2019) Going viral: emerging opportunities for phage‐based bacterial control in water treatment and reuse. Acc Chem Res 52:849‐857

Moye ZD, Woolston J, and Sulakvelidze A (2018) Bacteriophage applications for food production and processing. Viruses 10(4). pii: E205. doi: 10.3390/v10040205

Salifu, SP, Casey SA and Foley, S. (2013) Isolation and characterisation of soilborne virulent bacteriophages infecting the pathogen Rhodococcus equi. J Appl Microbiol 114:1625‐1633

Salifu, S.P., Valero‐Rello, A., Campbell, S.A., Inglis, N.F., Scortti, M., Foley, S., and Vázquez‐Boland J.A. (2013) Genome and proteome analysis of phage E3 infecting the soil‐borne actinomycete Rhodococcus equi. Environ Microbiol Reports 5:170‐178

Svircev A, Roach D, and Castle A (2018) Framing the future with bacteriophages in agriculture. Viruses.10(5). pii: E218. doi: 10.3390/v10050218

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