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EASTBIO Omics analysis of hyphal growth and localised protein translation in filamentous fungi

  • Full or part time
    Prof K E Sawin
    Prof D Tollervey
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, January 05, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Rapid hyphal growth of filamentous fungi, including many pathogens of plant crops, animals, and humans, depends on a distinctive dynamic structure near the growing hyphal cell tip, known as the Spitzenkörper (SPK). The SPK, which contains an accumulation of secretory vesicles, ribosomes and other poorly characterised material, serves as a link, or clearing-house, between intracellular transport and supply of vesicles to the secretory machinery at the hyphal tip. While some of the protein components of the SPK are known, to date it has not been analysed using comprehensive proteomics technologies. The PhD project will involve multiple "omics" approaches to characterizing the SPK in filamentous fungi, in order to define its protein composition, starting with non-pathogenic model systems (e.g. A. nidulans) as proof-of-concept, and ideally later continuing on to pathogens. The student will be able to test the role of individual SPK proteins in vivo by reverse-genetics approaches. In addition, there is indirect evidence that the SPK could serve as a factory for the synthesis of a subset of proteins involved in secretion and hyphal growth, via localised translation of a selection of mRNAs. The student will investigate this by analysis and functional characterisation of the SPK-associated transcriptome. A deeper understanding of SPK organisation and function may ultimately lead to improvements in crop production and human/animal health.

Methods involved in the project will include: gene tagging, live-cell fluorescence microscopy, In vivo post-translational labelling, protein purification, mass spectrometry/proteomics, RNAseq, and computer-based analysis.

Funding Notes

The “Visit Website” button will take you to our Online Application checklist. Complete each step and download the checklist which will provide a list of funding options and guide you through the application process. Follow the instructions on the EASTBIO website (you will be directed here from our application checklist), ensuring you upload an EASTBIO application form and transcripts to your application, and ticking the box to request references. Your referees should upload their references using the EASTBIO reference form, in time for the 5th January deadline so please give them plenty of time to do this by applying early.


Haag, C., Steuten, B., and Feldbrugge, M. (2015). Membrane-Coupled mRNA Trafficking in Fungi. Annu Rev Microbiol 69, 265-281.
Langdon, E.M., and Gladfelter, A.S. (2018). A New Lens for RNA Localization: Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation. Annu Rev Microbiol 72, 255-271.
Riquelme, M., and Sanchez-Leon, E. (2014). The Spitzenkorper: a choreographer of fungal growth and morphogenesis. Curr Opin Microbiol 20, 27-33.

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 109.70

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