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University College London Featured PhD Programmes

Biofilm prevention and eradication: investigating the potential of novelbiosurfactants as biocides


Project Description

The global rise of antimicrobial resistance has potentially devastating consequences, particularly within
the healthcare sector, and requires urgent attention. Prevention and eradication of surface biofilms,
which contribute to pathogenicity and act as a reservoir of antibiotic resistant microorganisms, is
necessary in order to reduce the likelihood of infection and the development of resistance.
Biofilms present a challenge however because they can withstand unfavourable environmental
conditions and inhibitory substances such as biocides. Surfaces in the healthcare environment, including
devices such as catheters, may be colonised, and affected patients are susceptible to highly problematic,
recurring infection. Many microorganisms synthesise surface‐active molecules called biosurfactants,
some of which exhibit effective anti‐biofilm properties. The biocompatibility, low toxicity and
biodegradability of these substances make them promising candidates for use in the clinical environment
where they could be used treat and prevent biofilms.

The aim of this project is to investigate the antibiofilm potential of natural biosurfactants derived from
actinobacteria, for the effective prevention and/or removal of clinical biofilms associated with intraurinary
devices and other surfaces. A range of techniques will be used, including bacterial culture,
biosurfactant extraction and purification, biofilm prevention and disruption assays, chemical
charcaterisation of surfactants and molecular identification of biosurfactant‐producing actinobacterial
strains. An innovative intra‐urinary device model will also be established for further testing.

For more information, follow the link provided to Edinburgh Napier University’s research degrees
application process and scroll down to Formal Applications. You may apply to study full‐ or part‐time.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Microbiology or a related biological science discipline with a good
fundamental knowledge of Microbiology and Molecular Biology.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other,
equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
 Experience of fundamental microbiology laboratory skills such as aseptic technique
 Competent in data analysis
 Knowledge of basic molecular biology techniques such as PCR
 Good written and oral communication skills
 Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
 Good time management

Desirable attributes:
The prospective candidate should have a strong desire to undertake an applied laboratory based project
in the field of microbiology. There will be opportunities to present your research at seminars and
conferences so confidence in public speaking, and some familiarity with presenting your work is desirable. Training and research progress meeting will occur throughout the duration of the project,
however the candidate should have the ability to work autonomously.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded position, although access to a consumables budget is available.

References

Otter, J.A., Vickery, K., Walker, J. T., deLancey Pulcini, E., Stoodley, P.,
Goldenberg, S. D., Salkeld, J. A. G., Chewins, J., Yezli, S. and Edgeworth, J. D.
2015. Surface‐attached cells, biofilms and biocides susceptibility:
Implications for hospital cleaning and disinfection. Journal of Hospital
Infection 89 (1), 16 – 27.
Santos, V. L., Nardi Drummond, R. M. and Diaz‐Souze, M. V. 2015.
Biosurfactants as antimicrobial and antibiofilm agents. In: Thomas‐Soccol,
V., Pandey, A. and Resende, R. R. (Eds). Current Developments in
Biotechnology and Bioengineering: Human and Animal Health Applications,
Elsevier, Oxford, U.K.

Related Subjects

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