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Fully funded PhD studentship : Adaptation of marine microbes to climate change, an integrated omics approach

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Yin Chen
    Prof D J Scanlan
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The growth of marine bacteria in the vast open ocean ecosystem is limited by the availability of nutrients. Marine cyanobacteria are responsible for the generation of around half of the oxygen in the atmosphere. Heterotrophic marine bacteria play a crucial role in marine elemental cycling, which regenerates essential nutrients for oceanic primary production. Global warming and the rise of sea surface temperature are predicted to enhance nutrient limitation in the oceans. Understanding how marine bacteria meet their nutrient demand and how they adapt to nutrient limitation holds the key to predicting how the oceans will function in the future following natural and anthropogenic change.

Lipids are a major component of all living cells and lipidomics is the large-scale, high throughput study of all lipid contents in a biological system. Recent advances in technologies such as liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) has enabled high throughput identification and quantification of thousands of cellular lipid molecule species. Indeed, lipidomics is starting to complement the rapid progress made in genomics, metagenomics, transcriptomics and proteomics, which will enable reconstitution of metabolic functions in biological systems.

The aim of this PhD project is to use a combination of molecular biology, microbial physiology and ‘omics approaches (including lipidomics, transcriptomics and proteomics) to understand the role of lipids in the adaptation of marine bacteria to environmental change such as nutrient availability, acidification or rising sea temperature.

We intend to fund TWO studentships with a focus on cyanobacteria/phytoplankton and heterotrophic bacteria, respectively.

Key experimental skills involved:

Cutting-edge ‘omics techniques, e.g. transcriptomics, proteomics, lipidomics; bioinformatics; microbial physiology; molecular biology, molecular microbiology; marine microbiology; analytical skills e.g. gas chromatography (GC), ion chromatography (IC) and liquid chromatography (HPLC) and mass spectrometry (MS).

Funding Notes

This project is directly funded by European Research Council (ERC) to Dr Y Chen (

Funding are available for EU and UK students only. An annual stipend of at least £14,296 for Four years. Starting dates can be flexible. Those who are interested, please send your CV to [Email Address Removed].


Shevchenko A, Simons K. 2010 Lipidomics: coming to grips with lipid diversity. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 11:593-598.

Scanlan et al., 2009 Ecological Genomics of Marine Picocyanobacteria. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 73:249-299.

Merchant SS, Helmann JD 2012 Elemental Economy: Microbial Strategies for Optimizing Growth in the Face of Nutrient Limitation. Adv Microb Physiol 60:92-210.

Sibastian M, Smith AF, Gonzalez JM, Fredricks HF, Van Mooy B, Koblizek M, Brandsma J, Koster G, Mestre M, Mostajir B, Pitta P, Postle AD, Sanchez P, Gasol JM, Scanlan DJ, Chen Y. (2016) Lipid remodelling is a widespread strategy in marine heterotrophic bacteria upon phosphorus deficiency. The ISME Journal, 10 (4) 968-978.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.88

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