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BBSRC iCASE: Systems Biology of Hydrogen Oxidising Bacteria for the Production of High Quality Feed Protein and Other Feed Ingredients

School of Life Sciences

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

About the Project

We are seeking a motivated PhD student with interest in microbiology, industrial fermentation and big data analysis for a project that addresses the issues of climate change and food security by turning CO2 into feed and food protein.

The world’s population is predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050, requiring significant increases in food production. The intake of protein per person is also expected to rise sharply. A substantial increase in food protein production is needed to meet the resulting demands. Conventional sources of protein are linked to greenhouse gas emissions and impact on biodiversity. Hence, there is an urgent need for innovative, sustainable protein production at scale. Hydrogen-oxidising bacteria offer a promising alternative as a source of so-called single cell protein. These bacteria fix CO2 and generate protein-rich biomass using hydrogen as a source of energy.

Aims and approach
The proposed study will be undertaken in close collaboration with our industrial partner, Deep Branch Biotechnology Ltd (, a Nottingham-based company that is revolutionising the use of bacteria to capture industrial carbon into feed ingredients. The nutritional value of a feed product strongly depends on cellular protein content and composition. A deeper understanding of how growth conditions impact these parameters would be beneficial to industry and further our scientific understanding of bacterial metabolism.

Using both model organisms and industrial strains, the project will seek to address this by systematic variation of culturing conditions, compositional analysis of the created biomass and omics analysis of the derived cells. In combination with predictive modelling the generated data will establish the molecular basis of the observed changes and potential underlying mechanisms. Conditions found to be favourable will be tested at large scale with industrially produced CO2. As part of the offered training, Deep Branch Biotechnology will offer the opportunity to gain experience at an industrial site.

You will join the BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre Nottingham dedicated to the exploration of CO2-fixing bacteria and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for gas fermentation, robotics, and liquid/gas chromatography. Part of the project will be carried out at Deep Branch Biotechnology. Informal queries can be contacted to Dr Klaus Winzer.

How to apply
This 4-year PhD studentship will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate has been found, candidates are therefore encouraged to apply via as soon as possible.

Applications should be submitted via, and ask your referee to submit their reference via

This fully-funded studentship is available to UK students and EU students who have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of their studies. EU students who do not meet this criteria are eligible for a fees-only award.

Applications should also be sent via email with the subject line ‘BBSRC iCASE Studentship’ to [Email Address Removed] by the deadline: noon, Tuesday 14th July 2020.

References should be sent directly from the referees to [Email Address Removed] by the deadline: noon, Friday 17th July 2020. Please note it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the references are sent in good time for the deadline.

The start date is 1 October 2020.

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