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Investigating the ecological and evolutionary forces driving the establishment of the rumen microbiome in early life


School of Biological Sciences

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Prof C Creevey , Dr K Theodoridou , Prof S Huws No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Project details:

Microbial communities play an important role in the health and efficiency of all animal life and especially in ruminants where they are central to their ability to utilise the nutrients in the food that they consume. The manner in which these microbiomes assemble in early life can impact the health and efficiency of these animals over their entire lifetime. This raises the intriguing possibility of directing the microbiome in early life towards an assemblage that gives the greatest benefit to the animal over its life-time. This “early life programming” has great potential, however we do not understand the underlying ecological and evolutionary drivers of this effect.

As part of the recently funded METH-ABATE project, this studentship will investigate the genetic foundations of early-life microbial programming through computational analysis of novel metagenomic and meta-transcriptomic data generated specifically for this project with partners in AFBI.

The student will join the Creevey lab (www.creeveylab.org) in the Institute for Global Food Security as part of an island-wide project team working closely with project partners in Teagasc and NUI Galway.

Using tools and approaches developed in the Creevey lab, the student will investigate the rumen microbial community structure, diversity, abundance, function and activity in response to early-life programming. They will then develop novel ecological models of how early-life communities establish and persist to confer a beneficial life-time effect on the environmental impact and efficiency of these animals.

This project will be supervised by Professor Chris Creevey, Dr Katerina Theodoridou, and Professor Sharon Huws of Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences/Institute for Global Food Security.

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

Specific skills/experience required by applicants:

Ideally, students will have a background in biology, microbiology, bioinformatics or computer science with some experience in the analysis of microbiome data. However, any students in these broad areas and with interest in the topic are invited to apply as training will be provided as part of the PhD programme to fill in any gaps in their skill sets.

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: https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/economy/post-graduate-studentships-terms-conditions-19-20.pdf.

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.


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