Heriot-Watt University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Portsmouth Featured PhD Programmes
University of Kent Featured PhD Programmes
Heriot-Watt University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Bristol Featured PhD Programmes

(BBSRC DTP CASE) High Pressure Biocatalysis: generating generic and scalable approaches to biocatalysis using engineered enzymes

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, January 31, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Oxidation reactions play a key role in the bulk chemical industry and enzyme-mediated biocatalysis offers an alternative to the use of traditional catalysts, which can suffer from poor chemical selectivity and require the use of harsh reaction conditions and produce hazardous waste products. Oxidative enzymes such as cytochrome P450s and flavin monooxygenases (FMOs) allow the regioselective oxidation of a wide range of substrates, operating under mild conditions in aqueous solution. A limitation to the use of such enzymes in large-scale processes is the relatively poor solubility of oxygen in water and slow gas-to-liquid kinetics. As oxygen is consumed during the reaction, second-order oxygen binding/activation reactions become rate limiting and the reaction yield suffers.

This project aims to generate generic and scalable approaches to biocatalysis using engineered enzymes working under conditions of high gas pressure over aqueous solutions. The primary focus will be on monooxygenase enzymes, where rate-limiting process chemistry and/or problematic equilibria are enhanced through increased dissolved oxygen concentration achieved using high pressure compressed air.

The project is a collaboration between the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB) at the University of Manchester and Drochaid Research Services in St Andrews. The PhD student will receive training in a broad range of complementary disciplines including molecular biology, protein preparation and engineering, biocatalysis and biophysical measurements, with a focus on high gas and hydrostatic pressure measurements and real-time reaction monitoring. All of the required expertise and equipment to undertake this project is available within the collaborating partners (MIB and Drochaid), which both house unique instrumentation not available elsewhere in the UK.


Entry Requirements:
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP websitewww.manchester.ac.uk/bbsrcdtpstudentships

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.


1. Chapman MR,Cosgrove SC, Turner NJ, Kapur N, Blacker AJ. Highly Productive Oxidative Biocatalysis in Continuous Flow by Enhancing the Aqueous Equilibrium Solubility of Oxygen. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2018 57: 10535-10539
2. Plasch K, Hofer G, Keller W, Hay S, Heyes DJ, Dennig A, Glueck SM, Faber K. Pressurized CO2 as a carboxylating agent for the biocatalytic ortho-carboxylation of resorcinol. Green Chem. 2018 20: 1754-1759
3. https://www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk/news/ingenza-embarks-on-collaborative-project-to- recycle-co2/; Roger M, Brown F, Gabrielli W, Sargent F. Efficient Hydrogen-Dependent Carbon Dioxide Reduction by Escherichia coli. Curr Biol. 2018 28: 140-145.e2.
4. Hay S, Johannissen LO, Hothi P, Sutcliffe MJ, Scrutton NS. Pressure effects on enzyme-catalyzed quantum tunneling events arise from protein-specific structural and dynamic changes. J Am Chem Soc. 2012 134: 9749-54.
5. McLean KJ, Hans M, Meijrink B, van Scheppingen WB, Vollebregt A, Tee KL, van der Laan JM, Leys D, Munro AW, van den Berg MA. Single-step fermentative production of the cholesterol-lowering drug pravastatin via reprogramming of Penicillium chrysogenum. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 112: 2847-52

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2019
All rights reserved.