Fluorinated compounds have been extensively used in herbicides, pesticides as well as insulators and drug molecules. However, as the C-F bond is very strong, these compounds biodegrade poorly, with some being dubbed “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment, often leading to pollution and toxicity. Urgent environmentally benign catalysts are needed for the efficient biodegradation of fluorinated compounds. In recent years several iron enzymes have been identified that show some activity in the activation of halogenated aromatic compounds and even are able to react with C-F bonds. In particular, heme mono-oxygenases like the cytochromes P450 and heme dehaloperoxidases have been shown to be able to activate aromatic C-F bonds. However, little is known on their substrate scope and general reaction mechanism. To exploit this discovery further a detailed experimental and computational study into dehalogenation of halogenated aromatic compounds will be performed using state-of-the-art experimental and computational approaches at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. In particular, research will be focused on the heme dehaloperoxidases and cytochromes P450 using a unique multidisciplinary approach ranging from bioinformatics, structural characterization, spectroscopy, kinetics and electrochemistry to computational modelling. The work is likely to give valuable insight into how these enzymes can be engineered to optimally catalyse an energetically challenging reaction at room temperature such as C-F activation. The work will open pathways for successful implementation in an Industrial setting. Bioengineering of dehaloperoxidases and cytochrome P450 isozymes may lead to the development of novel structures for the biodegradation of halogen containing aromatic molecules in an environmentally benign setting in an approach that links Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Applicants must have obtained or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science, engineering or technology.
Before you Apply
Applicants must make direct contact with preferred supervisors before applying. It is your responsibility to make arrangements to meet with potential supervisors, prior to submitting a formal online application.
How To Apply
To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on eligibility how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/bbsrc-dtp/
Your application form must be accompanied by a number of supporting documents by the advertised deadlines. Without all the required documents submitted at the time of application, your application will not be processed and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have any queries regarding making an application please contact our admissions team [Email Address Removed]
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/