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  Novel glycoprotease discovery and characterisation for enhanced detergent performance


   BiSCoP CTP

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  Dr Elisabeth Lowe, Dr David Bolam, Dr Ana Lorena Morales Garcia, Mrs Katarzyna Bell-Rusiewicz  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

In this exciting joint academia-industry project the student will exploit metagenomes and the huge untapped capacity of the human gut microbiota to breakdown glycoconjugates to discover novel protease enzymes that can potentially increase the performance and environmental sustainability of leading P&G automatic dishwashing brands.

Automatic dishwashing failures from animal-derived foods such as egg, milk, cheese, and meat are amongst the most frustrating for consumers, as they form stains that are difficult to remove, even with state-of-the-art protease-containing detergents. These foodstuffs are rich in glycoproteins which might contribute to stain recalcitrance. Recently discovered glycoproteases that specifically target glycoproteins provide an exciting potential solution as these enzymes could remove glycoproteins in animal-based food stains more easily and effectively than current proteases (see figure below). One route to discovery of glycoproteases with the potential to be useful in detergent formulations is to exploit the huge untapped resource of novel glycoprotein degrading enzymes encoded by our gut microbiota.

The human gut microbiota is a complex community of microbes that reside in the large intestine. A major nutrient source for the microbiota comes from the diet, in the form of both raw and cooked foods. Gut microbes are faced with the same complex food mixtures that are found on soiled dishes, and are therefore expert in degrading the glycans, proteins and glycoconjugates present in what we eat. In this project we aim to exploit the enormous capacity of the gut microbiota to efficiently degrade a wide range of dietary components to discover and characterise novel enzymes for use in development of more environmentally sustainable dishwashing formulations.

This project is a collaboration between P&G and Newcastle University and will involve a range of advanced microbiology, proteomic, bioinformatic, biochemical, structural and glycobiology techniques to discover and characterise novel glycoproteases for exploitation. It is the intention of this project to incorporate biotechnological solutions to reduce our dependency on traditional petrochemical based chemistry, thus lowering the environmental footprint of the product, and reducing the energy required to achieve excellent cleaning. Moreover, data generated will also provide insights into the function of the human microbiota and so will advance our knowledge of the biology of this key microbial community that plays such important roles in human health and nutrition.

Through this project, the student will receive a high-quality doctoral training by world leading scientists in the field of glycoconjugate degrading enzymes, with access to state-of-the-art glycobiology analytical techniques that will enable in-depth insight into the mechanism of the novel glycoproteases. These techniques are highly transferrable to jobs in the global bioeconomy, such as molecular biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics, including AlphaFold. Through the partnership with industry, the student will also be exposed to real-life consumer problems and the opportunity to incorporate the enzymes discovered into the course of the project into actual P&G automatic dishwashing compositions. The student will be able to evaluate the efficacy of these enzymes by testing them on model soils and consumer items.  Overall, the data generated in this project will provide significant insight into the mechanism of glycoprotein degradation by prominent members of the gut microbiota and underpin the development of novel enzyme strategies to maximise the effectiveness of low temperature and reduced detergent dishwashing against a range of difficult food stains.

For more information on this project, please contact either your academic supervisors (Dr Elisabeth Lowe, [Email Address Removed] & Dr David Bolam, [Email Address Removed] &), or your industrial supervisors (Dr Ana Morales-Garcia, [Email Address Removed] & Katarzyna Bell-Rusiewicz [Email Address Removed]

How to apply

Candidates wishing to apply for a studentship must apply directly to [Email Address Removed] by May 2nd 2024 by sending 4 documents:

  1. Current CV: [maximum 2 pages] – this needs to include qualifications & two references.
  2. A personal statement (maximum 500 words).
  3. A completed BISCOP CTP Equal Opportunities Monitoring form.

Name all the documents with your ‘Name and Type of Form’ e.g., Joe Bloggs CV, Joe Bloggs Personal Statement.

For more information, please see the Policies & Procedures for applicants.

In the meantime, if you have any issues or questions please contact [Email Address Removed]

Please find attached the (1) job adverts, (2) the “Equality Opportunities Monitoring Form”, (3) the policies and procedures for applicants.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

UKRI-aligned stipend, approved host University fees and a research budget.
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