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Factors Controlling Protein Metabolism and Growth in the Intertidal Limpet Patella vulgata

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  • Full or part time
    Dr K Fraser
    Dr B Ciotti
    Dr R Billington
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

While growth is a fundamental process in all organisms, little is known of the factors that govern individual growth performance in marine animals in situ. A major factor controlling growth is the synthesis and accretion of protein, and proteins are essential to organismal structure, function and regulation. This project aims to establish how environmental factors affect individual growth performance and make the first field-based measurements of protein synthesis in any marine organism.

The project would utilise cutting-edge methods, including a novel stable isotope flooding-dose technique, to examine micro-scale environmental variability, growth, protein metabolism, the capacity for protein synthesis and physiological stress in a model intertidal species, the limpet Patella vulgata. The intertidal zone is a highly challenging animal habitat with large daily, tidal and seasonal fluctuations in temperature, oxygen availability and desiccation. The stresses experienced by individual organisms will depend greatly on their position within the intertidal zone. Marine animals living high within the intertidal will be exposed to air for considerably longer per day than those living lower, with implications for physiological stress, feeding opportunities and in turn, growth. Through an investigation of limpets at different shore heights across tidal, diurnal and seasonal timescales, the study would pioneer the application of novel methodologies to examine stress induced growth trade-offs for animals living in variable environments.

Applicants should have a first or upper second class Honours Degree in a biological, biochemical, or closely related discipline and a strong interest in the physiology of marine organisms; a relevant Masters qualification or experience in a related discipline would be advantageous. In addition, they will hold a UK valid driving licence, as locations for field work are likely to be fairly remote and access via public transport is unlikely. The project will offer a unique opportunity to learn advanced laboratory, methods and undertake a PhD in one of the largest and most research active marine departments in the UK (

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Friday 29th May 2020. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview in mid-June. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a reply by 01 July 2020 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

Funding Notes

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,285 per annum. The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees would have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £12,405 per annum).

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