Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Dundee Featured PhD Programmes
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Featured PhD Programmes
Sheffield Hallam University Featured PhD Programmes
Cardiff University Featured PhD Programmes

*EASTBIO* Impact of the microbiome on development and health

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, January 05, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

BBSRC Thematic Group: Frontier Bioscience
The gut microbiota - the complex community of bacteria, viruses and archaea with which we live - has an important impact on health, disease progression, lifespan and behaviour (Glendinning and Free 2014). It may be a driver of co-evolutionary change (McFall-Ngai et al 2013). How does the microbiota mediate these effects in the host? Do the impacts of environment-mediated change in the microbiota go beyond the parental generation to the next? These questions are best addressed in biological systems in which you can manipulate microbiotas, with rapid generation times and large numbers of offspring with genomic resources and which are not too distant from wild populations. Amphioxus, a marine invertebrate chordate, is the ideal model for such studies. It has close evolutionary ties with vertebrate systems, but simpler genome architecture, gene regulation and anatomy (Marletaz et al 2018). It is emerging as an important model for developmental biology, regeneration and ageing research (Somorjai 2017).

During your PhD, you will characterise both environmental and gut microbiotas under several conditions in adult amphioxus using 16S rRNA gene metataxonomics. You will identify gene expression changes in these animals using RNA-seq, and evaluate the impact of microbiota change on development of embryos, from egg to larval stages. This research will help elucidate how the environment (microbiome) - independent of the parent genotype - can affect important developmental traits in the next generation. In future, this may permit engineering of microbiota and selection of host-microbiome associations to improve animal and human health.

This project will provide interdisciplinary training in cutting edge next generation sequencing technologies, bioinformatics, analysis, developmental biology, microbiology, molecular biology, microscopy and imaging. The successful candidate will benefit from the specialised training afforded by the EASTBIO PhD programme, as well as career and personal developmental opportunities at the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

Please see the Somorjai and Free lab profiles for a good overview of our research.

Funding Notes

This project is eligible for the EASTBIO Doctoral Training Partnership: View Website

This opportunity is only open to UK nationals (or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3+ years immediately prior to the programme start date) due to restrictions imposed by the funding body.

Apply by 5.00 pm on 5 January 2020 following the instructions on how to apply at: View Website

Please also upload the EASTBO Application Form as an additional document to the University of St Andrews online Application.

Informal inquiries to the primary supervisor are very strongly encouraged.


McFall-Ngai et al (2013) Animals in a bacterial world, a new imperative for the life sciences. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 110:3229-36.

Somorjai IML (2018) Amphioxus regeneration: evolutionary and biomedical implications. Int. J. Dev. Biol. 61: 689-696.

Glendinning L & Free A (2014) Supra-organismal interactions in the human intestine. Front Cell Infect Microbiol 4: 47.

How good is research at University of St Andrews in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 50.45

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2019
All rights reserved.