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Characterising the cyanobacterial cytoskeleton (LEASMITHU20DTP)

Project Description

Cyanobacteria (photosynthetic bacteria) are amongst the most abundant organisms on the planet, accounting for approximately a quarter of carbon fixation. Some species are excellent platforms for renewable production of biofuels and industrial compounds, due to their ability to convert water and carbon dioxide into chemicals, using energy from sunlight. However, our knowledge of many key aspects of cyanobacterial biology is limited. Cyanobacteria are complex prokaryotes, incorporating a series of internal thylakoid membranes, the site of photosynthesis, while others are organised in long filaments of cells, some specialised to fix nitrogen. How this cell organisation occurs is not well understood but likely involves cytoskeletal proteins. In this project, the student will investigate the role of cytoskeletal proteins in several cyanobacterial species, and how these affect cellular growth, division and organisation.

The student will use a range of techniques in this project including bacterial genetics, biochemistry, bioinformatics and microscopy, in addition to presenting scientific work in oral and written format. This will provide excellent training for future positions in academia, industry or scientific publishing.

For related papers please see Lea-Smith et al (2015), PNAS; (2016), Plant Physiology; Holmes et al (2013), PNAS; Saar et al (2018), Nature Energy.

Project supervisor:
Project sponsor: Norwich Research Park Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership
Type of programme: PhD
Start date: 1 October 2020
Mode of study: Full-time
Studentship length: 4 years


- First degree (2:1 or above) in relevant subject
- English language (IELTS 6.5 overall, 6 in each section)


This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 7th, 8th or 9th January 2020.

The NRP DTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: View Website. Full Studentships cover a stipend (2019/0 rate: £15,009pa), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

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