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Metabolomic studies of E. coli adaptation from anaerobic to aerobic growth

Project Description

Escherichia coli is a commensal organism that lives in the human gut. Occasionally it gives rise to food poisoning incidents, but mainly it is important for digestion and uptake of nutrients. In the gut it has an anaerobic lifestyle. On passage from the body, it is exposed to an aerobic environment and has to adapt very rapidly in order to survive and compete. This requires a major change in the main metabolic pathways such as glycolysis and the TCA cycle. We propose to investigate how its metabolism changes by growing E. coli in chemostats under defined conditions, sampling it using rapid quenching of metabolism, and then investigate the metabolites using two-dimensional NMR supported by other techniques (such as mass spectrometry) as required. The aim is to derive as complete a map as possible of the time-dependent changes in metabolites on going from anaerobic to aerobic, and to model these changes in order to gain an understanding of the underlying changes in metabolic pathways. In parallel, we shall carry out molecular biology in order to label specific proteins and to delete key enzymes, to check whether the model is correct. A key aim is to investigate whether glycolytic enzymes are relocated to the cell membrane during the change from anaerobic to aerobic growth. The project will therefore provide training in a wide range of microbiological and molecular biological techniques, as well as analytical techniques, especially NMR.

Science Graduate School

As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School – a community of postgraduate researchers working across biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and psychology. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

Entry requirements
First class or upper second 2(i) in a relevant subject. To formally apply for a PhD position, you must complete the University's application form using the following link: View Website

*All applicants should ensure that both references are uploaded onto their application as a decision will be unable to be made without this information*.

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

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

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