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Discovery of novel pharmaceuticals from marine and desert microorganisms

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof M Jaspars, Dr R Ebel  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Microorganisms from extreme environments such as the deep seas, cold seas and hyper arid deserts have been shown to produce a range of complex natural products with high biological activity. In this project you will investigate the chemistry of these compounds and their potential for treating a range of diseases. Via collaborations we obtain desert and marine samples from which you will isolate unique bacterial and fungal strains. Cultivating these under different conditions gives rise to varied metabolic profiles. We have new facilities for cultivating bacteria at very high pressures to mimic deep sea environments. You will use a range of chromatographic techniques to isolate the compounds from these cultured microbes. The next step will be to identify their chemical structures using spectroscopic techniques followed by testing the compounds in a range of biological assays to ascertain their biological activity and potential for use against human diseases.

As part of this project you will gain skills in microbiology, natural product chemistry and biological testing. You will work in a committed group of scientists interested in investigating natural resources for their potential to treat disease. The group is located in the Marine Biodiscovery Centre which houses state-of-the-art facilities and scientists with skills in microbiology, molecular biology, chemical analysis and natural product chemistry.

The successful candidate should have (or expect to have) a UK Honours Degree (or equivalent) at 2.1 or above in Chemistry, biochemistry or pharmacy

Knowledge: Organic chemistry, Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Chemistry. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Chemistry, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR and EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM.

Informal inquiries can be made to Professor M Jaspars ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only


1. “Dermacozines H-J Isolated from a Deep-Sea Strain of Dermacoccus abyssi from Mariana Trench Sediments” M. Wagner, W. M. Abdel-Mageed, R. Ebel, A. T. Bull, M. Goodfellow, H.-P. Fiedler and M. Jaspars, J Nat Prod, 2014, 77, 416-420.
2. “Chaxapeptin, a Lasso Peptide from Extremotolerant Streptomyces leeuwenhoekii Strain C58 from the Hyperarid Atacama Desert” Somayah S. Elsayed, Franziska Trusch, Hai Deng, Andrea Raab, Ivan Prokes, Kanungnid Busarakam, Juan A. Asenjo, Barbara A. Andrews, Pieter van West, Alan T. Bull, Michael Goodfellow, Yu Yi, Rainer Ebel, Marcel Jaspars, and Mostafa E. Rateb, J. Org. Chem. 2015, 80, 10252
3. “Antimicrobial Activity of Monoramnholipids Produced by Bacterial Strains Isolated from the Ross Sea (Antarctica)”, Pietro Tedesco, Isabel Maida, Fortunato Palma Esposito, Emiliana Tortorella, Karolina Subko, Chidinma Christiana Ezeofor, Ying Zhang, Jioji Tabudravu, Marcel Jaspars, Renato Fani and Donatella de Pascale, Marine Drugs, 2016, 14, 83
“Pseudochelin A, a siderophore of Pseudoalteromonas piscicida S2040” Eva C. Sonnenschein, Marc Stierhof, Stephan Goralczyk, Floriane M. Vabre, Leonie Pellissier, Kine Ostnes Hanssen, Mercedes de la Cruz, Caridad Diaz, Peter de Witte, Danielle Copmans, Jeanette Hammer Andersen, Espen Hansen, Venke Kristoffersen, Jose R. Tormo, Rainer Ebel, Bruce F Milne, Hai Deng, Lone Gram, Marcel Jaspars, Jioji N. Tabudravu, Tetrahedron, 2017, 73, 2633
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