Insect odorant receptors are a unique class of protein complexes evolved for odour sensing, with strong potential for electronic nose technology. In vivo, odorant receptors form an ion channel containing two subunits, a set of ligand binding units and the coreceptor, both of which are transmembrane proteins featuring seven membrane-spanning domains. The structure of the full insect odorant receptors complex is unknown and the mechanisms of the ion channel formation remain unclear. We have made electronic biosensors by coupling odorant receptors in artificial lipid bilayers (nanodiscs or liposomes) to carbon nanotube and graphene field effect transistors, to allow us to study how the odorant receptors operate and understand the sensing mechanisms.
We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student with an excellent academic record to investigate how mutating key residues of these receptors affects their signal generation on our devices. The work will be carried out in parallel with two other students at VUW who will be doing the microfabrication and sensing portions of the project.
The candidate should hold a Master’s degree or equivalent in Biochemistry with a strong background and solid hands-on experience in standard molecular biology techniques and protein biochemistry (molecular cloning techniques, protein expression and purification). Knowledge of and experience with protein mutation would be beneficial.
The candidate should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington .
The scholarship is funded via the Marsden Fund and provides a non-taxed stipend of NZ$35,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.
To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: [Email Address Removed] with “PhD Odorant sensors” in the subject line.
While the student will be enrolled at Victoria University in Wellington, they will be based at Plant and Food Research in Auckland.