Metaproteomics Approaches to Uncover Ecosystem Function in Aquatic Environments
Recently, it has become increasingly apparent that quantifying the molecular cellular components (e.g. DNA, mRNA, proteins and metabolites) in environmental samples can reveal significant information on ecosystem function. This means we can gain a much more comprehensive understanding of environmental responses to processes such as climate change or pollution etc. The field known as Environmental Omics is mostly dominated by DNA sequencing. However, proteins are the functional entities in cells and therefore identifying and quantifying proteins gives a much more accurate insight into how ecosystems respond to environmental perturbations. Gaining a snapshot of ecosystem function through measuring the proteins in an environmental sample is referred to as metaproteomics. This PhD aims to develop and apply metaproteomic platforms to better understand environmental systems and their robustness to change. Exemplar environments will include industrially relevant systems e.g. bioremediation and resource recovery.
The project would suit ideally a biosciences/chemistry graduate with a strong interest in novel and multidisciplinary approaches to environmental engineering, analytics, or mapping ecological responses using new, cutting edge technologies.
The successful candidate will receive training in quantitative analytical techniques e.g. high performance liquid, mass spectrometry. This includes experimental design and analysis of large amounts of data with bioinformatics pipelines. They will become experts in handling proteins and interpreting complex data. Metaproteomics is a tool that can be transferred to many different fields so flexibility within the project is high.
Metaproteomics is just one of many omics tools which are gaining momentum in their application in the laboratory and the field. The candidate will be developing skills that can be applied for research and development in many different field including the use of cutting edge analytical equipment.
The project supervisor currently leads a group of 7 PhD students, 1 PDRA and a Research Technician with access to microbiology and molecular biology facilities as well as cutting-edge mass spectrometers.
Applicants should have a First Class Honours degree in biological/chemical engineering, chemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, biology or environmental science. The student is expected to have an interest in environmental studies and analytical approaches and an understanding of omics would be advantageous but not essential, as training will be provided (see below).
English as a first language or IELTS score of 6.5 or above, with at least 6.0 in each component.