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Fully-funded White Rose BBSRC DTP Biology project: Uncovering the biological roles of recently discovered carbohydrate-active enzymes in green microalgae.

   White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology

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  Dr T Tonon  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Lead supervisor: Dr Thierry Tonon (Department of Biology)

Co-supervisors: Prof Luke Mackinder (Department of Biology) and Prof Neil Bruce (Department of Biology)

The student will be registered with the Department of Biology 

Microalgae have colonized every habitat on Earth, and are paramount in fueling the global ocean biological carbon pump. Moreover, microalgal biotechnology is of prime importance for developing a sustainable economy. Algae result from a complex evolutionary history that shaped their metabolic networks, and many aspects of their biology remain understudied. Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) are copper-containing enzymes involved in the metabolism of polysaccharides in bacteria, fungi, and insects, and have only recently been discovered in algae (Sabbadin et al. Nat. Com. 2018). No biological roles have been associated with these enzymes in these organisms yet. In this context, the current project will investigate the potential roles of three candidate LPMOs identified in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a well-established genetic and genomic model to study different aspects of algal biology. Preliminary analysis has suggested roles in different biological processes for these three enzymes, and hypotheses will be tested using a combination of reverse genetics, cell biology, biochemical, molecular, and in silico approaches. Results obtained will advance understanding on fundamental processes such as algal primary metabolism and environmental adaptation. It will help to better understand the ecological success of algae, and provide support for their uses in biotechnological applications.

The Department of Biology holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award. We are committed to supporting equality and diversity and strive to provide a positive working environment for all staff and students.

The WR DTP and the University of York are committed to recruiting future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and we have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Entry Requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with any biological, chemical, and/or physical science backgrounds, or students with mathematical background who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. 

Programme: PhD in Mechanistic Biology (4 years)

Start Date: 1st October 2023

Interviews: Friday 10 February 2023 or Monday 13 February 2023. Please keep these dates free.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:
Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£17,668 for 2022/23 academic year)
UK tuition fees
Research support and training charges (RSTC)
International students will need to have sufficient funds to cover the costs of their student visa, NHS health surcharge, travel insurance and transport to the UK as these are excluded from UKRI funding.

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