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PhD in Biochemistry to Characterize and Engineer Metalloenzymes for Fertilizer and Biofuel Formation


   Department of Systems and Synthetic Microbiology

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  Dr Johannes Rebelein  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Marburg Germany Biochemistry Bioinformatics Microbiology Molecular Biology Structural Biology

About the Project

Metalloenzymes encompass the evolutionary oldest and most important classes of enzymes. Roughly half of all enzymes contain metals. The most ancient and most important metalloenzymes contain complex iron-sulfur ([FeS]) clusters. These [FeS] clusters catalyze essential redox reactions thought to have enabled early life on earth. Even today, these metal clusters control key transformations in the global cycle of elements. Hydrogenases catalyze the reversible formation of hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide dehydrogenases catalyze the interconversion of CO and CO2, while nitrogenases reduce N2 to ammonia (NH3), catalyzing a key step of the global nitrogen cycle.

The structural and chemical basis for the reactivity of these “great clusters”, that catalyze some of the most challenging reactions known in nature have been laid out. However, the recent discoveries that nitrogenase [FeS] clusters directly reduce CO and CO2 to short chain hydrocarbons has challenged our picture of these enzymes and suggests unknown potentials.

We aim to fully understand the innerworkings of these complex metalloenzymes to subsequently use these insights to engineer metalloenzymes with novel attributes and activities. The long-term goal is to develop and engineer synthetic metabolic pathways using these unique reactivities for the production of bulk chemicals, including fertilizer (NH3), hydrocarbons (C2H4, C3H8, C4H10) and hydrogen (H2).

We are looking for an enthusiastic, proactive and collaborative PhD candidate willing to tackle these great biochemical challenges. The candidate should hold a degree in biology/life sciences/chemistry. Ideally you bring experience in microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry. A good command of written and oral English is essential and excellent communication skills are welcomed.

You would join an expanding group with expertise ranging from microbiology, biochemistry to spectroscopy, offering a comprehensive teaching and mentoring experience. The successful candidate would join the thriving graduate community at the International Max Planck Research School in Marburg (https://www.imprs-marburg.de/). The Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg is a world-leading hub of microbiology with state-of-the-art research infrastructure and a highly stimulating intellectual environment.

Interested applicants should send a cover letter stating your motivation, research experience and interest, a CV, transcript of records of the Bachelor's and Master's degree and contact details of at least two references to: [Email Address Removed]. For more information visit my website (https://www.mpi-marburg.mpg.de/856655/Johannes-Rebelein) or contact me directly.


Funding Notes

Three years are funded as a full-time doctoral researcher (65% TV-L E13), ~2500 €