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Exploitation of halophilic microorganisms for open and continuous production of biopolymers (ENG1346)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, May 11, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Halophilic microorganisms possess several advantages for developing low-cost bioprocesses, such as low energy and freshwater consumption, low risk of contamination and utilization of low-cost substrates. Halophiles can grow in extreme conditions, such as high pH, high salinity and higher temperatures, which gives them a competitive advantage against other pure strain fermentation processes, enabling contamination free, unsterile and continuous processes. The design and development of halophile-based industrial biotechnology is critical for the implementation of economically viable bioprocesses by the chemical industry.

Several halophilic microorganisms can produce a wide range of bio-products, including biopolymers. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) is a family of biodegradable polymers that occur in the form of intracellular granules, with the potential to substitute conventional polymers such as polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). However, their high production cost hinders their widespread application. As PHA production capacity is expected to quadrupole within the next five years, designing a continuous and low-cost production process is now more crucial than even.

The scope of the current project is:

1. to screen several halophilic microorganisms regarding their PHA production potential, and;
2. to develop continuous and low-cost upstream, as well as downstream bioprocesses, to produce biopolymers using the most promising halophile.


Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a 1st class or 2.1 honours degree (or international equivalent) in Chemical/Biochemical Engineering, Materials Science, Chemistry, Biotechnology or related discipline. A relevant master’s degree in these areas would be an advantage.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply:

Informal contact can be sent to Dr Konstantina Kourmentza () before submitting an online application. Please send a cover letter and a copy of your CV with your up to date relevant experience.

Online application can be made via Please quote the studentship reference and Dr Konstantina Kourmentza.

When applying for this studentship, please include the reference number (beginning ENG) within the personal statement section of the application. This will help in ensuring your application is sent directly to the academic advertising the studentship.


Due to funding restrictions this position is only available for UK or EU candidates.

Eligible for Home / EU candidates. This project will include the payment of tuition fees as well as a stipend equivalent to RCUK rates (currently at £15,009 p.a. tax free for 2019/20) awarded to the suitable candidate.

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