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Chromatin evolution – beyond histones

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, December 01, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Across all domains of life, DNA is intimately associated with proteins that wrap, package, and protect it. Bacteria encode a variety of small basic proteins that are dynamically expressed and fulfil a variety of architectural roles by bridging, wrapping, or bending DNA. In contrast, a single group of proteins has come to dominate chromatin in eukaryotes: histones. Our group is interested in how histone-based gene regulation evolved, how and why eukaryotes became so dependent on histones, and whether we can find (or build!) chromatin without histones. To answer these questions, we use both experimental and computational approaches, from the genome-wide analysis of nucleosome landscapes, to reconstructing the evolution of different chromatin components, to creating synthetic systems and subjecting them to experimental evolution. For example, we have recently expressed histones in E. coli to understand how a naïve system, which has not co-evolved with histones, deals with nucleosome formation (Rojec et al. 2018 bioRxiv 660035). We have a fondness for biological curiosities and regularly use non-model organisms, especially archaea, to understand general principles of chromatin function and evolution.

During your PhD, you will lead a project in the broad area of chromatin evolution, joining a diverse, gender-balanced lab with equally diverse interests in evolution, systems biology, and functional genomics (see for a flavor of what we do beyond chromatin). The ideal candidate has a strong interest in evolution and chromatin biology, some experience in microbiology or biochemistry and the desire to work both experimentally and computationally.

To Apply: Please visit our website ( to download an application form.

Funding Notes

This project is one of multiple available projects potentially funded by the MRC. If successful the studentship would cover all tuition fee payments and includes a tax-free stipend amounting to £21,000pa (paid in monthly installments directly to the student) for 3.5 years.

Whilst this funding is available to students worldwide, due to the higher tuition fee rate of overseas students competition is higher and so only exceptional OS applicants will be considered.

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