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Multiheme Cytochromes as Molecular Wires for Energy Technologies (BUTTJ2U19SF)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Butt
    Dr Tom Clarke
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Certain bacteria have a natural ability to exchange electrons between their internal and external environments. This behavior allows coupling of catalytic transformations inside the bacteria to complementary redox transformations of catalysts and electrodes outside the cell. Electricity generation can be coupled to waste-water remediation in microbial fuel cells. Industrially relevant oxidation reactions proceed exclusively when electrons are released to anodes. Reduced products such as fuels can be generated when electrons are provided from (photo)cathodes.

In this self-funded PhD project, you will join a team of dynamic researchers to resolve structure and electron transfer properties of multiheme cytochromes responsible for conducting electrons across bacterial outer membranes. Working in a supportive environment you will overexpress, purify and study multiheme cytochromes from a number of Gram-negative electrogenic bacteria. Multiheme cytochromes with novel properties will be subject to detailed investigation with a view to enhancing the (photo)electrochemistry of the corresponding bacteria.

Training will be provided in techniques including molecular biology, protein purification, optical spectroscopy, protein electrochemistry and enzymology.

The successful candidate should have (or expect to have) a UK Honours Degree (or equivalent) at 2.1 or above in Chemistry, Biochemistry or a related subject and have interests in biochemistry, spectroscopy, electrochemistry and microbial biotechnology. There will be opportunities for Chinese applicants to obtain funding for a project on this topic via our joint PhD programme with SUSTech in Shenzhen.

Informal enquiries can be made to Prof. Julea Butt ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter.

Applications are processed as soon as they are received and the project may be filled before the closing date, so early application is encouraged.

Project Start Date: Oct 2019
Mode of Study: Full-time
Acceptable First Degree: Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Natural Sciences
Minimum Entry Requirements: UK 2:1

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


i) Electrochemistry of Surface-Confined Enzymes: Inspiration, Insight and Opportunity for Sustainable Biotechnology.
Current Opinions Electrochemistry (2018)
DOI: 10.1016/j.coelec.2018.03.021

ii) Mechanisms of Bacterial Extracellular Electron Exchange.
Advances in Microbial Physiology 2016
DOI 10.1016/bs.ampbs.2016.02.002

iii) Direct evidence for heme-assisted solid-state electronic conduction in multi-heme c-type cytochromes
Chemical Science (2018)
DOI: 10.1039/C8SC01716F

iv) Structural modeling of an outer membrane electron conduit from a metal-reducing bacterium suggests electron transfer via periplasmic redox partners.
Journal of Biological Chemistry (2018)
DOI 10.1074/jbc.RA118.001850

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