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Determination of Listeria monocytogenes virulence in an invertebrate model Project ID SAS0045

Project Description


Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) is a bacterium which is ubiquitous in the environment and the causative agent of listeriosis, a major food-borne disease affecting humans and livestock. In humans, pregnant woman, the elderly, and immuno-compromised people are affected while the high rate of fatality of 20% to 30% makes L. monocytogenes a significant cause of food-borne related human mortality. In sheep and cattle L. monocytogenes is a major cause of miscarriage and encephalomyelitis resulting in welfare issues and significant economic losses.

We have isolated a number of strains of L. monocytogenes from a variety of sources, with different pathogenic potential (1). The DNA from these isolates have been sequenced and we are carrying out bioinformatic analysis to determine the presence or absence of virulence factors associated with disease. However, in silico predictions alone cannot fully define the virulence of an organism. The current project will determine the virulence of different strains of L. monocytogenes using Galleria mellonella, a well characterised invertebrate model of virulence (2). If it is found that environmental strains demonstrate only limited disease causing potential then this will provide the industry with extra tools for managing risk and developing appropriate control mechanisms.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in microbiology, biological science, biomedical science or another relevant discipline, with a good fundamental knowledge of microbes.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental laboratory skills
• Competent in aseptic technique
• Knowledge of microbiology
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
• Good time management

Desirable attributes:
Molecular Biology skills


- A completed application form
- CV
- 2 academic references, using the Postgraduate Educational Reference Form (Found on the application process page)
- A personal research statement (This should include (a) a brief description of your relevant experience and skills, (b) an indication of what you would uniquely bring to the project and (c) a statement of how this project fits with your future direction. If you are not responding to an advertised project, then your personal research statement will need to include an outline of the project you are proposing)
- Evidence of proficiency in English (if appropriate)

Funding Notes

1) Smith A, Singleton I, Hearn J, Taylor C, Wheelhouse N, Kaczmarek M, Moorhouse E. 2019. Listeria monocytogenes isolates from ready to eat plant produce are diverse and have virulence potential. International Journal of Food Microbiology 299:23-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2019.03.013.

2) Sheehan G, Dixon A, Kavanagh K. 2019. Utilization of Galleria mellonella larvae tocharacterize the development of Staphylococcus aureus infection. Microbiology. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000813.


This is a self-funded studentship therefore you will have to provide funds to cover both your University fees and living expenses

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