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How does Clostridium difficile control the gut microbiome? Molecular dissection of nutrient control strategies

Project Description

Project details:

Clostridium difficile is a Gram positive, spore forming, anaerobic bacterium that is the main cause of hospital-acquired and antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. Traditionally associated with the health care setting, there is increased incidence of community acquired infection. This has stimulated interest in natural reservoirs of C. difficile which include soil, compost and animals, with pigs of particular significance. To understand fully the spread of this pathogen, molecular detection and typing methodologies have revealed a complex picture with C. difficile possessing a large pangenome that exhibits extreme levels of plasticity, leading to a continual change in the predominant C. difficile strains detected globally. To date we know little about the evolutionary pressures that drive such changes and unravelling this will be the focus of this project.

Following disruption to the ‘normal’ gut microbiome C. difficile grows, and in addition to releasing toxins, produces molecules such as p cresol that control and shape the diversity of bacterial species within the gut. The ability of C. difficile to utilise nutrients such as succinate, tryptophan and trehalose, has been implicated in the emergence of hypervirulent strains. This project will dissect the regulation and utilisation of these compounds across all 5 clades of C. difficile.

This project will be supervised by Professor Geoff McMullan, Dr Bobby Graham, and Professor John McGrath of Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences.

All applications MUST be submitted through https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php.

Specific skills/experience required by applicants:

Experience in the handling of anaerobic microorganisms, experience in using PCR, and in the use of proteomics will be of benefit to applicants.

All applicants must meet the academic entry requirements: https://www.qub.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate-research/biological-sciences-phd.html#entry

Funding Notes

Only UK and EU students are eligible to apply. Before applying, it is strongly recommended that you read the full information on eligibility criteria available from DfE: View Website.

Please note in particular that not all successful applicants may be eligible to receive a full studentship (i.e. fees and stipend) - please read in detail the Residency and Citizenship requirements in the document linked to above.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 29.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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