Metabolomics investigation of impacts of metal nanoparticles on multispecies biofilm consortia

   Faculty of Health and Life Science

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  Dr Howbeer Muhamad Ali, Prof Kathryn Whitehead  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications will be reviewed until a suitable candidate is appointed.

The burden of antimicrobial resistance is a daily challenge in clinical settings, especially in acute and intensive care units. In burn units, it is estimated that more than 75% of deaths are associated with infections, and a key bacterial pathogen contributing to such infections is Pseudomonas aeruginosa. On the burn surface, microorganisms commonly exist within a complex, multispecies structure termed a biofilm, which enhances bacterial resistance to antimicrobial agents. Many of these bacteria are becoming multi drug resistant, which is the main driving force behind the development of new strategies and technologies to tackle such infections, including the design and applications of new metal surfaces and metal nanoparticle-based biocidal agents. However, how such biocidal products affect the biofilm consortium, their metabolic response and metabolome, and the resulting virulence and resistance of the bacteria is unclear. Such biological understandings may support may provide important clues to prevent a mismatch between therapeutic strategies, facilitate desirable prognosis and reduce the risk and development of antimicrobial resistance.

In this project, you will be using various microbiological culturing techniques, and the state-of-the-art metabolomic approaches (Raman and infrared spectroscopies, and mass spectrometry) to monitor changes in the metabolic profiles and response of the bacterial cells upon exposure to various metal NPs and surfaces.

The multidisciplinary nature of this project will give the successful candidate a broad training in modern biology techniques including omics, microbiology, experimental design, bacterial biochemistry, and various multivariate statistical methods. Both laboratories involved in this collaborative project have researchers from a range of backgrounds, countries and disciplines, hence alongside learning the research techniques and transferable skills, the student will engage with a range of students and postdoctoral scientists and will actively see how research is translated into industrial and clinical pathways.

For enquiries or to express your interest in this position, please contact: Dr Howbeer Muhamad Ali on: [Email Address Removed]

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

The project is open to both European, UK and International students. It is UNFUNDED and applicants are encouraged to contact the Principal Supervisor directly to discuss their application and the project.
The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses as well as research costs of £4000 per year.
Details of costs can be found on the University website:
A £2000 ISMIB Travel and Training Support Grant may be available to new self-funded applicants.


Muhamadali, H., et al., Metabolomic analysis of riboswitch containing E-coli recombinant expression system. Molecular Biosystems, 2016. 12(2): p. 350-361.
Muhamadali, H., et al., Combining Raman and FT-IR Spectroscopy with Quantitative Isotopic Labeling for Differentiation of E. coli Cells at Community and Single Cell Levels. Analytical Chemistry, 2015. 87(8): p. 4578-4586.
Karaky, N., et al., Metal ions and graphene-based compounds as alternative treatment options for burn wounds infected by antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Archives of Microbiology, 2020. 202(5): p. 995-1004.

Where will I study?