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Mechanisms of interbacterial competition during Staphylococcus aureus colonisation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 11, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Before they can cause disease, bacteria need to colonise their hosts. To do so they must establish a niche among the resident microbiota. Staphylococcus aureus synthesises and secretes both antimicrobial compounds and toxic proteins to kill competitor bacteria. The aim of this project is to characterise protein toxins that are secreted by the S. aureus Type VII protein secretion system. The project will involve defining the cellular targets of toxins and identifying neutralising anti-toxins that protect the host strain from self-intoxication. A zebrafish embryo colonisation model will be used to examine the role of secreted protein toxins in interbacterial competition and how they synergise with secreted antimicrobial compounds to establish S. aureus colonisation.

For further information see the website:

To apply

Please complete the online application form and attach a full CV and covering letter. Informal enquiries may be made to

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year BBSRC studentship under the Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham DTP. The successful applicant will receive research costs, tuition fees and stipend (£14,777 for 2018-19). The PhD will start in October 2019. Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, a 2.1 Hons degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. EU candidates must have been resident in the UK for 3 years in order to receive full support. There are 2 stages to the application process.


Unnikrishnan, M., Constantinidou, C., Palmer, T. and Pallen, M. (2017) The enigmatic Esx proteins: looking beyond mycobacteria. Trends in Microbiology 25, 192-204.

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