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About This PhD Project

Project Description

Bacteriophages are the most abundant entity on the planet and are known to drive the evolution of their bacterial hosts. Bacteriophages are known to convert harmless bacteria into pathogens by a process known as phage conversion. Bacteriophages are also mediators of horizontal gene transfer, providing a mechanism for DNA to be transferred between bacterial hosts via generalised and specialised transduction. Furthermore, phages can increase the severity of bacterial infections by acting as decoys to the immune system. With the immune system fighting the viral infection rather than their bacterial hosts, allowing the bacterial infection to be maintained.

In addition to the possible detrimental effects of phages on human health (eg spread of antibiotic resistance genes, increased bacterial virulence), they also hold hope as novel source of antibiotics. The potential of bacteriophages to be used a therapeutics against pathogens is becoming increasingly recognised as is the use of phages to remodel the microbiome.

Despite the importance of bacteriophages, most of what we know about bacteriophages is based on a relatively small number of bacterial-phage host systems. Approximately 60% of phages that have been sequenced have been isolated on just 12 different genera of bacteria. These genera tend to be representative of human pathogens eg Salmonella sp , Myobacterium sp Shigella sp . However, there is a dearth of knowledge on the diversity of phages that infect the commensal bacteria found in the human gut. Furthermore, there is virtually no model phage-host model systems for commensal gut bacteria.

To fully understand the role of phages it is necessary to develop phage-host systems so that hypotheses may be tested.

UK/EU applicants only.

Entry requirements:
Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject.
The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable: https://le.ac.uk/study/research-degrees/entry-reqs/eng-lang-reqs/ielts-65

How to apply:
Please refer carefully to the application guidance and apply using the online application link at https://le.ac.uk/study/research-degrees/funded-opportunities/bbsrc-mibtp

Project / Funding Enquiries:
Application enquiries to
Closing date for applications: Sunday 12th January 2020


Forster, S.C.; Kumar, N.; Anonye, B.O.; Almeida, A.; Viciani, E.; Stares, M.D.; Dunn, M.; Mkandawire, T.T.; Zhu, A.; Shao, Y.; et al. A human gut bacterial genome and culture collection for improved metagenomic analyses. Nat. Biotechnol. 2019.

Poyet, M.; Groussin, M.; Gibbons, S.M.; Avila-Pacheco, J.; Jiang, X.; Kearney, S.M.; Perrotta, A.R.; Berdy, B.; Zhao, S.; Lieberman, T.D.; et al. A library of human gut bacterial isolates paired with longitudinal multiomics data enables mechanistic microbiome research. Nat. Med. 2019.

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