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Microbial interactions in unique chemosynthetic ecosystems –an integrated ‘Omic approach


Project Description

Project details:

Despite the lack of photosynthetically-fixed carbon, the Movile Cave ecosystem hosts a diverse range of invertebrates. Evidence suggests that some animal species may have been trapped in Movile Cave for a few million years and have become adapted to life in the dark. Studies have proved that the subterranean ecosystem is completely isolated with no surface input of nutrients and organisms depend on microbially fixed carbon. Previous research has characterised the functional diversity of aerobic methylotrophic bacteria and autotrophic bacteria living in microbial mats within the cave system. However, little is known about how microbial eco-evolutionary adaptations shape interactions between different functional groups and sustain ecosystem functioning.

This project will use state-of-the-art geochemical, molecular ecology and genome engineering tools to understand microbial interactions. Specific objectives are to i) examine in situ metabolic networks and elemental mass balance; ii) CRISPR-based genome engineering of isolates to understand microbial fitness; and iii) stable-isotope probing (SIP) enabled metagenomics/proteomics to understand resource partitioning.

The student will receive training in molecular microbiology and ecology, ‘Omics tools, bioinformatics, geochemistry, and in scientific communication.

This project will be supervised by Dr Deepak Kumaresan and Professor John McGrath (Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences) and Dr Rory Doherty (School of Natural and Built Environment).

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

Specific skills/experience required by applicants:

Background in biology, microbiology or molecular biology.

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: View Website.

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.

References

Related links:

http://www.deepakkumaresan.com/movile-cave.html

https://microbiomejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40168-017-0383-2

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.40

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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