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Can we reverse climate change by changes in carbon capture enzymes? (OP2231)

   Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering

   Monday, January 24, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Newcastle United Kingdom Bioinformatics Climate Science Environmental Biology Genetics Plant Biology

About the Project

Rising CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and oceans is among the major drivers of current climate change and a threat to humanity as we know it. Photosynthetic organisms (plants, algae and cyanobacteria) are fixing inorganic carbon using several enzymes: most terrestrial plants use Rubisco as a primary carboxylase to fix CO2, while c.10% of terrestrial plants and majority of algae and cyanobacteria use phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) and/or carbonic anhydrase (CA) for primary carbon fixation in the form of bicarbonate. The ongoing final year ONE Planet PhD successfully used data from environmental bioinformatics for modelling impact of climate change on Rubisco performance in key crops (Iqbal et al., 2021).

The main aims of this project are (i) to further use the combination of environmental data and climate models to predict better carbon capture enzymes for key aquatic and terrestrial phototrophs (algae including coral symbionts, ecosystem forming tree species and crops) in future climates; (ii) to implement predicted changes in the carbon capture enzymes within selected algal and plant species using gene editing and a recently developed chloroplast gene delivery system (V.N. Kozhevnikov, Northumbria University, unpublished).

This research will improve our understanding of photosynthetic carbon fixation under different climate scenarios and inform human-assisted carbon sequestration, which could mitigate negative effects of climate change.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the NERC ONE Planet DTP. Each of our studentship awards include 3.5 years of fees (Home/EU), an annual living allowance (£15,650) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, etc).
Home and International applicants (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. Following the UKRI announcement regarding their new 30% UKRI international recruitment policy (to take effect from September 2021) both Newcastle University, and Northumbria University, have agreed to pay the international fee difference for all International applicants (inc. EU) who are awarded a DTP studentship. Interviews will take place in February 2022.
How to apply: View Website


References: Iqbal et al. (2021) Journal of Experimental Botany, 72:6066–6075.

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