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Archaeal polyphosphate cycling: novel enzymes to drive new technologies

Project Description

Project details:

Phosphorus is a globally important resource used particularly by the agricultural industry in fertiliser, enabling the growth of enough crops to feed the world’s increasing population. Consequently many waste streams produced by society contain excess phosphorus and violate environmental legislation, thus requiring extensive remediation. Biological phosphorus removal attempts to exploit the ability of microorganisms to accumulate large quantities of phosphorus as the biopolymer polyphosphate, but its performance is often inadequate. Despite being ubiquitous across all forms of life, polyphosphate has until now mostly been studied in bacteria and yeasts.

Recent collaborative research between Queen’s University Belfast and NUI Galway (Paula et al. [2019]. Scientific Reports, in press) has revealed that not only do archaea frequently possess homologs of bacterial polyphosphate cycling genes, but also likely have novel enzymes for polyphosphate metabolism. The characterisation of these systems and the factors which control their expression could drive the development of novel phosphorus recycling technologies and improve our understanding of phosphorus biogeochemistry in the natural environment. This studentship therefore aims to characterise polyphosphate cycling within the Archaea at the enzyme and gene level using microbiological, molecular and biochemical techniques such as culturing, cloning, enzyme characterisation and bioinformatics.

This project will be supervised by Dr Jason Chin and Professor John McGrath of Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences.

All applications MUST be submitted through

All applicants must meet the academic entry requirements:

Funding Notes

Only UK and EU students are eligible to apply. Before applying, it is strongly recommended that you read the full information on eligibility criteria available from DfE: View Website.

Please note in particular that not all successful applicants may be eligible to receive a full studentship (i.e. fees and stipend) - please read in detail the Residency and Citizenship requirements in the document linked to above.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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