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Evolution of fungal memory and its impact on infection [Medical Mycology] – PhD (Funded)


About This PhD Project

Project Description

We are seeking applications for a fully-funded, three-year PhD studentship to study with Professors Alistair Brown and Gordon Brown in the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology at the University of Exeter. Our MRC Centre is based on the Streatham Campus in Exeter.
The Project: Fungi that inhabit predictable environments can evolve anticipatory responses that promote their survival by protecting them against impending environmental stresses. In pathogenic fungi, this crude form of fungal memory can trigger immune evasion and promote infection [Trends in Microbiology, 27, 219]. For example, Candida albicans displays anticipatory responses such as glucose-enhanced oxidative stress resistance [Molecular Biology of the Cell, 20, 4845] and lactate-induced masking [Nature Microbiology 2, 16238]. These anticipatory responses provide protection for the fungus against our immune defences. In this project, we will examine how Candida evolves anticipatory responses by performing microevolution experiments under controlled laboratory conditions, genome sequencing of evolved strains and then CRISPR-Cas9-based recapitulation of key mutations. We will then test why Candida evolves anticipatory responses by examining their impact upon host-fungus interactions by examining the ability of innate immune cells to recognise and kill evolved Candida strains. This work will provide major new insights into the evolution of adaptive responses in a major fungal pathogen of humans.

The Studentship: The studentship will start in January 2020, and will cover a stipend at the minimum Research Council rate, £15,009 in 2019/20, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for 3 years. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.
Applications: Applicants must have a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Please submit: your CV; a letter outlining your academic interests; prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project; transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained; plus two references from referees familiar with your academic work. (Your referees may prefer to email their reference directly to quoting the studentship reference number.) If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English (see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/).

The closing date for applications is midnight on 31st October 2019. Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus in late November 2019.

Enquiries: General enquiries to or phone +44 (0)1392 722730 or +44 (0)1392 725150. Project-specific queries to Professor Alistair Brown ().

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