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Strategic use of protease to unlock hidden potential of alternative protein sources for resilient and sustainable poultry production.


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  Dr Farina Khattak  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This exciting, timely and multidisciplinary PhD project elucidates exogenous protease action through both in-vitro and in-vivo systems, and its application to a wide range of alternative, plant-based protein sources for poultry. Developing such alternatives is crucial in order to reduce farmers' dependence on traditional sources of protein (soya bean meal) and help tackle the two biggest challenges the poultry industry currently faces, i.e., exceptionally high feed ingredient prices and environmental challenges from manure nitrogen excretion. The overall hypothesis is that strategic use of exogenous protease in poultry feed can help unlock the hidden potential of underutilised protein sources and thus help to maintain and improve diet quality, reduce the feed cost by maximising the available nutrient level of poultry diet and improve gut health.

The study's main objectives would be 1) to determine the capacity of protease to hydrolyse protein while using alternative plant-based protein sources in-vitro 2). To quantify the nitrogen and amino acid digestibility of selected protein sources with and without protease when fed to broilers as the sole source of protein while using semi-purified diets, and 3) to determine the optimum level of protease sufficient to optimise growth and promote gut health in vivo.

The student will be registered at the University of Edinburgh and based at the Monogastric Science Research Center (MSRC) of Scotland's Rural College (SRUC; near Edinburgh, UK). In-vivo studies will be conducted at the SRUC's poultry research facility, which is the UK's largest facility dedicated to fostering world-leading research to promote sustainable future farming by trialling innovative ideas under near-commercial conditions.

The project will partner with Kemin Animal Nutrition and Health – EMENA, a global ingredient manufacturer that delivers products and services that help to achieve optimal nutrition, feed quality, gut health and pathogen control. The student will work closely with Kemin, including an industrial placement of up to 6 months at their research lab in Belgium. During their placement, the student will be trained to carry out the in-vitro work investigating the mode of action of protease, specifically looking into peptide production, cleavage sites and synergy between different proteases, etc., which is further facilitated through being part of the Campopiano Biocatalysis group in the SoC at the UoE.

Additionally, at SRUC and University of Edinburgh, skills training will be provided in personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking, team working, and career management.

This project is multidisciplinary and combines nutritional, enzymology, chemistry, molecular and classic microbiology, genomic and statistical science to provide insight into protease's effect on improving protein digestion, catabolism and improved gut health. The supervisory team brings the necessary complementary expertise in each of these fields and will support the student in developing academic skills within each discipline. The combination of on-farm training, lab skills, and exposure to world-leading companies will ensure that the student is well prepared for a career in academia or industry.

HOW TO APPLY

Application instructions can be found on the SRUC website- PhD opportunities | SRUC

  1. Download and complete the Equal opportunities survey and note the completion reference
  2. Download and complete the SRUC Application form
  3. Download the Academic Reference Request and send to two referees requesting they submit to [Email Address Removed] by the closing date.

Send your application including the following to [Email Address Removed]:

  • Completed Application form quoting REF SRUC/FK
  • Academic Qualifications
  • English Language Qualification (if applicable)

Unfortunately, due to workload constraints, we cannot consider incomplete applications. Please ensure your application is complete by Thursday 5th January 2023.


Funding Notes

This 3.5 year PhD studentship is open to UK and international students, providing funding to cover UKRI level stipend and UK level tuition fees.

How good is research at SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College in Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences?


Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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