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Systems analysis of the impact of microplastics in the marine environment

Project Description

Project details:

One Health is an emerging paradigm that recognizes that the health and well-being of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected. The long term persistence of plastics has seen them accumulate in different ecosystems at increasing rates. This is particularly true in the marine environment where microplastics are persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic chemicals that biomagnify in food chains with potentially adverse consequences for environmental health and human food security. Another concern is that microplastics may act as vehicles for chemicals introduced during manufacturing. It is unknown whether microplastics contribute to the development of cancer in marine animals and, by extension, in humans. Most work to date is based on short term laboratory exposures, often with a single type of plastic and at elevated concentrations compared with what is seen in the environment. The goal of this PhD.project will be to exploit sentinel fish species native to Northern Ireland with a high body burden of microplastics and carry out transcriptome (RNA) and epigenetic (miRNA/methylation) experiments on gastro-intestinal and liver tissues. Systems level modeling on these data using the adverse outcomes framework and correlation analyses with end-point fish phenotypes and health assessments will provide novel insights into the adverse effects of microplastics.

This project will be supervised by Professor Gary Hardiman and Dr Brian Green of Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences/Institute for Global Food Security.

Applications MUST be submitted through

Specific skills/experience required by applicants:

Molecular biology skills, experience working with high dimensional genomic data, such as sequencing data, gene expression, genotype, CNV, sequence and/or data from other high throughput biological technologies desired. Programming skills Python and/or R, although not essential, are desirable.

All applicants must meet the academic entry requirements:

Funding Notes

Only UK and EU students are eligible to apply. Before applying, it is strongly recommended that you read the full information on eligibility criteria available from DfE: View Website.

Please note in particular that not all successful applicants may be eligible to receive a full studentship (i.e. fees and stipend) - please read in detail the Residency and Citizenship requirements in the document linked to above.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.40

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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