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Bacteriophages as agents of rumen microbiome regulation of feed efficiency and methane emissions


   Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)

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  Dr C Creevey  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The work to be carried out in this proposed studentship involves investigating the effect of phages on rumen function, with particular emphasis on identifying those which result in a reduction in methane emissions, an increase in digestibility of the feed and a beneficial change in the colonisation strategy of the rumen microbes on fresh forage. The goal is to identify phages that can be utilised as part of a feed additive strategy to create rumen conditions more conductive to increased productivity and lower methane emissions in ruminant production systems.

Sarum Biosciences has extensive experience isolating and testing phages for biomedical applications and has a large library of phages available that have never been tested for efficacy on natural microbial populations such as in the rumen. Prof Newbold, Dr Alison Kingston-Smith and Dr Creevey have a track record of rumen microbiome research and running trials of dietary additives on rumen functions. However to date, no research using phages as an agent of rumen manipulation have been tested. This represents an opportunity to capitalise on the experience of the academic researchers and the resources of the industrial partner to identify phages that may be used in the agrobiotech industry.

The project will consist of four phases:
1. Broad screening of phages on cultures of rumen bacterial and archaeal isolates
2. Isolation and culturing of novel phages from the rumen
3. Determination through in vitro simulations of the effect of phages on rumen traits such as methane emission and lactic-acid production.
4. Quantification of the effect of phages on the natural colonisation of fresh forage by the rumen microbiome.

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree, and be available to take up the studentship by end of January 2016, or as soon as possible thereafter.

To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (email [Email Address Removed] or address below) by 8th January 2016:
1. A completed Postgraduate Application Form, plus two references submitted by the deadline. Application and reference forms may be downloaded from http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/howtoapply/apply-offline/.
2. A completed KESS participant application form (put the reference number AU10013 in the top right hand box) and an up-to-date CV. KESS application forms are available to download at the link below. http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/rbi/staff-students/knowledge-economy-skills-scholarships/
3. A PhD proposal of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description.
Informal enquiries should be made to Dr Chris Creevey at [Email Address Removed] or 01970 621612.
Quote Reference AU10013


Funding Notes

Part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme. KESS PhD scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. Each scholarship is exempt from registration fees, provides a stipend of £14,002 pa, plus a budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training. The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory, and PhD Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three year period. Eligibility: on starting the scholarship you must be resident in the Convergence Area of Wales (https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/departmental/ccs/kess/convergence-map.pdf) and eligible to take paid employment in the area on completion of the scholarship.
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