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Functional biology and ecology of aquatic fungi (CUNLIFFEPMBA19ARIES)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, January 08, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Fungi are well established as important components of aquatic ecosystems, however the functional roles that they fulfil remain poorly understood (Grossart & Rojas-Jimenez 2016). Recently, we have shown that fungi in marine waters regularly form blooms linked to specific environmental drivers, including particulate organic carbon (POC) availability (Taylor et al 2016).

In a separate study using 13C-labelled diatom produced POC, we have identified specific aquatic fungi involved in POC cycling (Cunliffe et al 2017).

These studies show that some aquatic fungi are saprotrophic, degrading POC via extracellular enzymes and feeding on dissolved organic degradation products osmotrophically.

Understanding the fundamental mechanisms that underpin biogeochemical processes in model microorganisms, including using ‘omics tools, is powerful and can reveal novel insights into microbial functioning in ecosystems.

At present, there are no model aquatic fungi available to understand fungal saprotrophy and POC cycling. This represents a knowledge gap that should be addressed in order to fully understand the functional roles that fungi fulfil in aquatic ecosystems.

The ARIES DTP programme provides comprehensive personal and professional development training alongside extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial/policy partners.

The student will be registered at the University of Plymouth and based at the Marine Biological Association also in Plymouth.
Specific training will include: (i) Environmental microbiology, including fungi cultivation and physiological experimentation, ‘omics and associated bioinformatics; (ii) Microbial cell biology, including confocal microscopy and CRISPR-Cas9; (iii) Microbial biogeochemistry and ecophysiology.

Students with a background in any of the following areas; biological sciences, molecular and/or cellular biology, microbiology, marine biology or aquatic biology should consider applying.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership. Undertaking a PhD with ARIES will involve attendance at training events.

ARIES is committed to equality & diversity, and inclusion of students of any and all backgrounds. All ARIES Universities have Athena Swan Bronze status as a minimum.

Applicants from quantitative disciplines who may have limited environmental science experience may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take appropriate advanced-level courses.

Usually, only UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for three years are eligible for a stipend. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 26/27 February 2019.

For further information please see or contact us at .

ARIES studentships are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which applies the eligibility criteria laid down by its parent body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). These are outlined in their Terms and Conditions of Training Grants document, and given in more detail in their training Grant Guide, both of which can be found on the UKRI website.

Funding Notes

In general, UK and EU nationals who will have been resident in the UK for three years or more at the time when their PhD begins will be eligible for a full ARIES studentship. UK and EU nationals who have been resident outside the UK but within the EU during the qualifying period will usually be eligible for a ‘fees only’ studentship, which pays research costs and tuition fees but gives no help with living expenses.
In case of uncertainty, the planned university of registration should be contacted for eligibility advice; or the ARIES administrators: .

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