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Super resolution imaging of the algal pyrenoid

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  • Full or part time
    Dr L Mackinder
    Prof M Leake
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The pyrenoid is an enigmatic organelle found in the chloroplasts of
microalgae that is responsible for approximately 30% of global CO2
fixation. The engineering of a pyrenoid into crop plants has the potential
to boost photosynthesis and yields by up to 60%, however we still have
gaps in our knowledge of the structure and function of the pyrenoid.
The Mackinder and Leake Labs at the University of York are looking to
recruit a highly motivated and dedicated student to undertake a PhD that
will combine cutting edge molecular biology with super-resolution
microscopy to give us an unprecedented understanding of the structure
and function of the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii pyrenoid. The successful
PhD candidate will:
1) Build a super-resolution picture of the C. reinhardtii pyrenoid.
You will use millisecond super-resolution ‘Slimfield’ microscopy
established in the Leake Lab (Reyes-Lamothe et al., 2010 Science;
Badrinarayanan et al., 2012 Science) on yellow fluorescent proteins that
localise to the pyrenoid.
2) Explore the molecular crowding of different pyrenoid regions.
You will further explore liquid-like properties of the pyrenoid (Freeman
Rosenzweig et al., 2017 Cell) using a FRET based molecular crowding
sensor (Boersma et al., 2015 Nature methods) to monitor pyrenoid
protein crowding during liquid-liquid phase separation.
3) Characterise protein-protein interactions of core pyrenoid
components. To gain a detailed insight into pyrenoid protein function
you will take recently identified protein-protein interactions (Mackinder et
al., 2017 Cell) and explore their dynamics using FRET pairs in response
to CO2 availability.
We are interested to hear from students interested in one or more of the
following areas: molecular biology, cell biology, biophysics, algal biology,

More details on the Leake lab and be found here: http://single-molecule- and the Mackinder lab here:

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year fully-funded studentship part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology. The studentship covers: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (around £15,000 per year), (ii) tuition fees at UK/EU rate, (iii) research consumables and training necessary for the project.

Entry requirements: At least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science. Students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions are also welcome to apply.


Eligibility: The studentships are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award. Further information about eligibility for Research Council UK funding

Shortlisting: Applicants will be notified if they have been selected for interview in the week commencing on Monday 28 January 2019.

Interviews: Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place in the Department of Biology at the University of York on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 February 2019. Prior to the interview candidates will be asked to give a 5 minute presentation on a research project carried out by them.

How good is research at University of York in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.37

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

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