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  PhD Studentship in Biology: Exploring the Role of Nutrient Transport Mechanisms in Models of Animal-Microbe Symbiosis

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr Catriona Anderson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project


Understanding how symbiotic relationships between microorganisms and host animals are maintained is key to our understanding of how their physiology, ecological dynamics, evolutionary processes and, ultimately, survival are influenced. This project will investigate symbiotic partnerships using complementary molecular biological, physiological and computational techniques.

Animals rely on microbes to fulfil vital biological functions such as the production of essential nutrients. For example, symbiotic bacteria in many insects supply their host with essential amino acids lacking in the host’s diet. These insect-microbe relationships have evolved over millions of years and often neither the insect nor microbe can survive independently of the other partner. However, the molecular mechanisms which enable the interactions between animals and their symbiotic microbiome are not yet well understood. Insects and their obligatory microorganisms not only provide excellent models to better understand these tightly controlled processes, but studying such models also enables the development of novel strategies for the control of vector-borne diseases and for crop protection.

The close symbiotic relationship found in insects relies on multiple nutrients being moved between the insect and its bacteria giving rise to questions as to how the host insect supply the bacteria with nutrients and how amino acids produced by the bacteria are delivered to the host insect. Little is known as to the identity and function of the nutrient transport proteins (transporters) which mediate this nutrient movement. However, we have found that candidate proteins are distantly related to mammalian (and human) transporters of known function. This research project will investigate insect nutrient transporters using a number of complementary laboratory and computational techniques in insects such as the exemplar model of aphids and their symbiont Buchnera.

You will join the lab of Catriona Anderson, a transporter biologist, and be part of a wider multidisciplinary team of insect, microbe and plant (crop) researchers within the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and protein biochemists within the Faculty of Medical Sciences. This position can start in September 2022 or January 2023.

Number Of Awards


Start Date

September 2022

Award Duration

3 years.


Newcastle University NUAcT Fellowship Scheme


Dr Catriona Anderson, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Eligibility Criteria

Available for UK and EU applicants only. You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a high 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in biology, physiology, biochemistry or related subject (e.g. microbiology, cell biology, zoology, environmental science, nutrition).

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

  •  Insert the programme code 8020F in the programme of study section
  • Select ‘8020F – PhD in Biology (full time) - Biological Sciences’ as the programme of study
  • Insert the studentship code SNES223 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • Attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code SNES223 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  •  Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications

Contact Details

Dr Catriona Anderson ([Email Address Removed])

School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Agriculture (1) Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

100% of home tuition fees paid and annual stipend of £16,062.
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