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Mining the salmon louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) microbiome for novel control targets


College of Science and Engineering

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Dr Cindy Smith , Dr K Thompson No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Atlantic salmon aquaculture industry is a key contributor to the UK economy, contributing over £1 billion to the UK economy annually. Prevention and control of the salmon louse, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, is the most significant disease challenge for this industry, for which novel R&D initiatives are urgently needed. Research relating to other arthropods species has focussed on the potential of manipulating microbial populations within the host as strategies for parasite control. A growing body of work indicates that a close association exists between the microbiome and a number of key biological processes of the host, which in turn contribute to the parasite’s health and fitness. The microbiome of the salmon louse remains unexplored and basic research is needed to describe the ‘core’ microbiota associated with it, to establish the functional role of the microorganisms present and if it has a role in the biology of the parasite’s phenotypic traits and fitness. Interfering with the potential symbiotic function of the salmon louse microbiome may shed new light on its biology and aid in the discovery of novel strategies for control of the salmon louse within aquaculture systems
The aim of this project is to gain knowledge relating to the salmon louse microbiome by: (1) characterising the microbiome of L. salmonis; (2) examining how biological, ecological and/or environmental parameters influence the microbial diversity within the L. salmonis microbiome, and (3) determine if it is possible to manipulate the microbial diversity of the L. salmonis microbiome.
The student will analyse the microbiome of L. salmonis, through different life stages, using Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) of the 16S rRNA gene and localise ‘core’ microbiota using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), with the aim of examining how biological, ecological and/or environmental parameters influence its microbial diversity. They will also exploit shotgun metagenomic sequencing to provide information on relative abundance of each ‘core’ microbial species, and clues of their potential function.

This project is a collaboration between University of Glasgow, Moredun Research Institute and Moredun Scientific Ltd.

Funding Notes

We are seeking a stellar candidate to apply to either or both scholarship schemes (fees and stipend at UKRI rates) i) Carnegie/Caledonian PhD Scholarships (applicant must have an undergraduate degree from a Scottish University) and/or ii) James Watt School of Engineering Doctoral Scholarship Scheme Scholarship (UK or EU student).

The candidate must have a 1st Class Honours undergraduate, in either molecular biology, microbiology, parasitology, bioinformatics, biochemistry, related biological science or a Veterinary/Medical Degree.

Informal enquiries and full applications (CV, letter of motivation and two references) can be sent to Prof Cindy Smith ([Email Address Removed]) by the 14th December.

References

McFall-Ngai MJ. (2014). Rev. Microbiol. 68:177-194; Ezenwa VO, et al. (2012). Science 338:198-199; Brinker P, et al. (2019) Trends Microbiol, 27(6): 480-488; Engel P. & Moran N.A. FEMS Microbiol Rev 37 (2013) 699–735;
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