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Enhancing the Biotechnological Potential of a Bioplastic Producer Cupriavidus Necator H16 Using a Combination of Adaptive Laboratory Evolution (ALE) and Synthetic Biology Approaches


   Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering


About the Project

Plastic, a lightweight, durable, and impact-resistant material, has transformed the way we live and made positive impacts across various economic sectors. However, the extractive mode of manufacturing petroleum-derived plastic is not sustainable. This is further compounded by the ecological problem of plastic pollution. We are therefore in desperate need of sourcing alternative material, which is far more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Cupriavidus necator H16 is a model organism for polyhydroxylalkanote (PHA) production. PHA is a biodegradable, biocompostible, and biocompatible bioplastic, making it an excellent alternative to conventional plastics. Further, its material properties can be tuned by changing its composition. However, the production cost of PHA remains high, and this is a key barrier to its wider application.

In this project, the candidate will use the method of adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) to improve the properties of C. necator H16 to make this biomanufacturing host compatible with industrial requirements (e.g., production scale, carbon feedstock etc). On top of that, the candidate will alter the material properties through a synthetic biology approach.

During the project, the candidate will receive training at the interface of engineering and biological sciences. The candidate will gain expertise in the areas of industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology. The candidate will also benefit from the resources, supports, and training from the Engineering Graduate School, the Faculty and the Departmental Employability Teams, allowing the candidate to develop themselves into a future leader in bioeconomy.

For more information about the research conducted in Wong and Tee research groups, please visit:

Wong Research Group: https://www.wongbiomanufacturing.com/.

Tee Research Group: https://sites.google.com/sheffield.ac.uk/kanglanteelab/.

Please see this link for information on how to apply: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/cbe/postgraduate/phd/how-apply. Please include the name of your proposed supervisor and the title of the PhD project within your application.

Applicants must have achieved or expect to achieve a 1st class or 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline in Chemical/Biochemical/Environmental Engineering, Bioscience/Microbiology/Molecular Biology or Chemistry. If English is not your first language then you must have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component, or equivalent. Please see this link for further information: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/phd/apply/english-language.


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