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Bioinformatics analyses of unknown metagenomics fraction

School of Biological Sciences

Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

"DNA sequencing technology now allows us to investigate not only the identity of organisms that are present in complex environments like soil, but also what these tiny microbes are doing. This technology, referred to as ""metagenomics"", involves recovering and sequencing genetic material directly from environmental samples and applying computational techniques to examine the identity of the microbial species present and also the different functions that they are capable of performing.

While it has brought us new insights into the world of microbes and their activities, one major limitation of the current metagenomics approach has been that a substantial amount of the genetic material that is sequenced from complex samples are ignored and discarded because they cannot be classified by the catalogue of known genes and supported biochemical functions.

This so called the ""unknown metagenomics fraction"" may well hold many keys to the discovery of novel proteins, antibiotics, biocatalysts, probiotics with industrial, biotechnological, pharmaceutical and medical relevance. Currently researchers are struggling to harness this potential, because of the fact that there are limited number of computational tools.

We propose to tackle this challenging yet exciting problem by creating a novel computational resource to allow scientists to test the significance of the “unknown metagenomics fraction” in their samples as well as provide meanings and explanations to their occurrences. We will be testing our method on both publically available and private metagenomics data from various projects."

Funding Notes

Eligibility Details: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent or a Masters degree in a relevant subject, such as Computer Science, Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Genetics or Bioinformatics. Programming skills are essential.

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