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Graphene biosensors for field testing of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in sustainable aquaculture

College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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Dr T Bachmann , Dr A Desbois No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Aquaculture is a rapidly expanding sector in agriculture with increasing importance to provide food protein for a growing population and subsistence to communities around the globe. Alongside the surge of aquaculture, the consumption of antibiotics in some sectors of this industry has increased. This has serious consequences concerning the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the impact on animal welfare, production yield, livelihoods, the environment and potential transmission to non-aquatic livestock and humans. Especially the latter has been cause of concern and led to widespread policy interventions such as banning of imports where antibiotic residues are detected. Change from antibiotic use to improved husbandry and use of probiotics are options to improve the situation. Moreover, a key unmet need to make sustainable changes are rapid tests which could be performed on-site at the farm or in the hatchery to assist diagnoses of infections quickly to enable early interventions, as well as to determine the presence of antibiotic residues or resistant bacteria in the final product. This project will address this issue by developing a rapid test, which can be performed truly at the point of need. The Bachmann Lab has worked extensively on electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) based biosensors for point of care detection (of pathogens, AMR, biomarkers, DNA, RNA, proteins, small molecules). The key feature of these sensors is the label and target amplification free detection of analytes enabling truly mobile testing at the point of need. The biosensor and AMR expertise will be complemented by Dr Andrew Desbois who has a long track record in aquaculture and AMR research at the University of Stirling. In this project, we will work with RD Graphene Ltd which has developed a completely novel process to manufacture purest graphene on a variety of materials. This offers the manufacturing of low-cost high-performance disposable sensors for everyday products. RD is the only company in the world currently having a design-for-manufacture process that can be scaled to high volume manufacture from reel to reel with cycle times in seconds. This enables the manufacturing of millions of tests per month. The PhD project will investigate the development and use of biosensors to detect AMR genes and further relevant genetic traits in shrimp and fish pathogens. The aim is to enable amplification-free detection which can be performed on-site without the need for complex sample preparation. The test will enable a better understanding and avoidance of the emergence of AMR in aquaculture settings. The project will benefit from the ongoing DOSA project, including links to the Indian partner Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT). ****Please email Till Bachmann for questions [Email Address Removed]***

Funding Notes

EASTBIO-funded CASE project for October 2020 intake
The studentships cover fees, stipend, research training support costs of £5,000 per year (this is reduced to £1,500 in the final year) and a small travel and conference allowance for each student. Students are a part of the EASTBIO training programme and are required to undertake enhanced subject-specific, core bioscience and generic skills training and 3-month professional internship (PIPS) out with academia or a placement (3 to 18-months) with their CASE partner. Students are required to submit their thesis within 4 years. ***To apply and receive application forms please email [Email Address Removed] or [Email Address Removed]***

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