University of Oxford Featured PhD Programmes
University of Oxford Featured PhD Programmes
Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) Featured PhD Programmes

OnePlanet DTP - Revealing adaptive divergence of photosynthetic carboxylases and carbonic anhydrases for carbon sequestration (OP2182)


Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering

Monday, January 18, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project Description: Rising CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and oceans is among the major drivers of current climate change and a threat to humanity as we know it. Photosynthetic organisms (plants, algae and cyanobacteria) are fixing inorganic carbon using several enzymes: most terrestrial plants use Rubisco as a primary carboxylase to fix CO2, whyle c.10% of terrestrial plants and majority of algae and cyanobacteria use phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) and/or carbonic anhydrase (CA) for primary carbon fixation in the form of bicarbonate. The main aim of this project is to find new Rubisco, PEPC and CA enzymes from the oceans for fundamental and applied research on carbon sequestration. Methods: bioinformatics tools will be used for bioprospecting publicly available wealth of sequence data collected from oceans (e.g. TARA expedition) for genes encoding Rubisco, PEPC and CA enzymes. Machine learning techniques trained on pre-existing datasets will be applied to predict enzyme kinetics from sequence data. Selected genes will be expressed in E. coli, and produced recombinant enzymes validated using biochemical assays. This PhD project will be synergistic to the ongoing ONE Planet PhD on modelling impact of climate change on Rubisco as well as EPSRC funded PhD on synthetic biology of Rubisco in algae. This research will improve our understanding of ongoing photosynthetic carbon fixation in oceans and inform human-assisted carbon sequestration, which could mitigate negative effects of climate change.

Liu et al. (2017) Surveying the expanding prokaryotic Rubisco multiverse. FEMS Microbiology Letters. 364:fnx156.

Funding Notes

Each of our studentship awards include 3.5 years of fees (Home), an annual living allowance (£15,285) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).

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