Molybdopterin cofactor synthesis and regulation in Campylobacter jejuni: understanding essential enzymes of a food-borne pathogen

   Department of Biomedical Sciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Project Overview:

Campylobacters are the leading cause of human bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide, representing an enormous health, social and economic burden. Campylobacter jejuni is the primary disease-associated species in humans, readily transmitted through the consumption of contaminated poultry and other foods. Physiologically, C. jejuni is a microaerophilic pathogen with a limited, highly host-adapted metabolism. Understanding the essential metabolic processes of C. jejuni is crucial for the development of interventions and attainment of food security.

In this project, the student will investigate the utilisation, biogenesis and regulation of molybdenum and tungsten enzyme co-factors (MoCo / WCo). MoCo is essential for the activity of several essential enzymes in C. jejuni and represents a promising intervention target. However, little is understood about how MoCo biogenesis and specific incorporation into enzymes is regulated.

The applicant will be trained in all aspects of molecular microbiology, including cloning, physiology, enzymatic assays, protein purification and qRT-PCR. This project has both fundamental interest and real world application, providing an exciting experience with strong scope for novel, publishable outcomes.

School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport. 

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching. It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces.

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities.

During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills.

The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.


Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Microbiology or a strongly-related discipline. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements. With a commitment to improving diversity in science and engineering, we encourage applications from underrepresented groups.

How to apply:

Submit an application for a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at


Further information:



Dr. Aidan J Taylor, email:



Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project.
If you are applying to an international funding scheme, we encourage you to get in contact as we may be able to support you in your application.


Taveirne, M. E., Sikes, M. L., & Olson, J. W. (2009). Molybdenum and tungsten in Campylobacter jejuni: their physiological role and identification of separate transporters regulated by a single ModE-like protein. Molecular microbiology, 74(3), 758–771.
Smart, J. P., Cliff, M. J., & Kelly, D. J. (2009). A role for tungsten in the biology of Campylobacter jejuni: tungstate stimulates formate dehydrogenase activity and is transported via an ultra-high affinity ABC system distinct from the molybdate transporter. Molecular microbiology, 74(3), 742–757.
Taylor, A. J., & Kelly, D. J. (2019). The function, biogenesis and regulation of the electron transport chains in Campylobacter jejuni: New insights into the bioenergetics of a major food-borne pathogen. Advances in Microbial Physiology, 74, 239–329.

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