About the Project
We have identified key environments in which adaptation occurs via loss-of-function mutations, but unlike for other forms of variation, we have little knowledge about the repeatability of such changes, their relative contribution to adaptation, and their knock-on effects for survival and adaptation in other environments. For example, do different loss-of-function mutations—such as frame-shifts or gene deletions—occur at different rates? Are they functionally equivalent? Do they have different consequences for microbial fitness, both in the environment in which they arose, and also in other environments?
Microbial experimental evolution offers the tools and throughput needed to uncover these processes over evolutionary time. We will expose strains of the genus Pseudomonas (Hesse et al. 2018) to different environments (carbon sources, sub-lethal antibiotics) and to new genomic contexts (introduction of an energetically-costly genetic construct) in which adaptation via adaptive loss-of-function has previously been observed. Genomic and experimental tools, including high-throughput sequencing and fitness assays in diverse environments, will enable us to address clear hypotheses, filling important gaps in our current knowledge on this key adaptive process.
Candidates with experience and/or an interest in evolutionary biology, microbiology, and/or genomics are encouraged to apply.
For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Evolutionary Biology.
For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit http://www.internationalphd.manchester.ac.uk
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
Gifford, D.R., Toll‐Riera, M., and MacLean, R.C. (2016) Epistatic interactions between ancestral genotype and beneficial mutations shape evolvability in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Evolution, 70(7), 1659-1666, doi:10.1111/evo.12958
Gifford, D.R., Furió, V., Papkou, A., Vogwill, T., Oliver, A., and MacLean, R.C. (2018) Identifying and exploiting genes that potentiate the evolution of antibiotic resistance. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2(6), 1033, doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0547-x
Winstanley, C., O’Brien, S., & Brockhurst, M.A. (2016). Pseudomonas aeruginosa evolutionary adaptation and diversification in cystic fibrosis chronic lung infections. Trends in Microbiology, 24(5), 327-337, doi:10.1016/j.tim.2016.01.008
Hesse, C., Schulz, F., Bull, C.T., Shaffer, B.T., Yan, Q., Shapiro, N., Hassan, K.A., Varghese, N., Elbourne, L.D.H., Paulsen, I.T., Kyrpides, N., Woyke, T. and Loper, J.E. (2018) Genome-based evolutionary history of Pseudomonas spp. Environmental Microbiology. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.14130
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