About the Project
This funded studentship will be of interest to sugar chemists, food scientists, mycobiologists, and those interested in prebiotic manipulation of the gut microbiome.
The cell wall of dietary Fungi may be an important source of functional fibre. The precise structure and biosynthesis of a fungal cell wall is unique to a given fungi.
Fusarium species have complex cell walls, analysis of isolated cell walls from Fusarium oxysporum showed that addition to glucan and chitin, they also contain mannose, galactose, and uronic acids, presumably originating from cell wall glycoproteins. These glycoproteins cover the inner cell wall, and in other fungal species such as S. cerevisiae have been shown to act as a nutrient source for gut bacteria (6)
The structure and function of the fungal b-glucan/chitin complex has been well studied, and our group has been characterising the prebiotic effects of this complex on the host microbiome. However, little effort has been done to determine the composition and structure of Fusarium glycoproteins. Moreover, the effects of this component of the cell wall on human health have not been studied.
In this project, we will elucidate the composition of glycoproteins in several Fusarium species, including the source of mycoprotein, F. venenatum. We will determine the monosaccharide composition and analyse the linkage of these glycoproteins. Moreover, we will expand this analysis to other filamentous fungi, some of them important plant pathogens. Finally, we will determine the utilisation of these glycoproteins by the gut microbiota.
This work addresses important fundamental questions in mycobiology and it may influence the development of novel functional foods to benefit human health.
The project will offer the opportunity to work in the labs of Dr Elisabeth Lowe and Dr Fiona Cuskin at Newcastle University, as part of the collaborative project.
This project is an industrial collaboration between Northumbria University and Quorn Foods.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
· Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
· Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDFC21/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 30th April 2021
Interviews: May 2021
Start Date: 1st October 2021
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.
For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Jose Munoz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.
1. Muñoz J.; James, K., Bottaccini, F.; van Sinderen, D. (2020) Biochemical analysis of cross-feeding behaviour between two common gut commensals when cultivated on plant-derived arabinogalactan. Micro. Biotechnol. 13(6) 1733-1747. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.13577.
2. Cartmell, A.; Muñoz-Muñoz, J.L.; Briggs, J.; Ndeh, D.; Lowe, E.; Basle, A.; Terrapon, N.; Stott, K.; Yu, L.; Dupree, P.; Fernandes, P.Z.; Shah, S.; Williams S.J.; Labourel, A.; Henrissat, B. and Gilbert, H.J. (2018). The cellular location of endo-acting galactanases confers keystone or recipient status to arabinogalactan degrading organisms of the human gut microbiota. Nat. Microbiol. 3(11):1314-1326.
3. Ndeh, D.; Muñoz-Muñoz, J.L.; Cartmell, A.; Bulmer, D.; Wills, C.; Henrissat, B.; Gray, J. (2018). The human gut microbe Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron encodes the founder member of a novel glycosaminoglycan-degrading polysaccharide lyase family PL29. J. Biol. Chem. 293(46):17906-17916.
4. Muñoz-Muñoz, J.L.; Cartmell, A.; Terrapon, N.; Henrissat, B. and Gilbert, H.J. (2017) An evolutionarily distinct family of polysaccharide lyases removes rhamnose capping of complex arabinogalactan proteins. J. Biol. Chem. 292 (32) 13271-13283.
5. Muñoz-Muñoz, J.L.; Cartmell, A.; Terrapon, N.; Henrissat, B. and Gilbert, H.J. (2017). Unusual active-site location and catalytic apparatus in a glycoside hydrolase family. Proc Natl Acad Sci 114 (19) 4936-4941.
6. Cuskin F.; Lowe E.C.; Temple M.J.; Zhu Y.; Cameron E.A.; Pudlo N.A.; Porter N.T.; Urs K.; Thompson A.J.; Cartmell A.; Rogowski A.; Hamilton B.S.; Chen R.; Tolbert T.J.; Piens K.; Bracke D.; Vervecken W.; Hakki Z.; Speciale G.; Munōz-Munōz J.L.; Day A.; Peña M.J.; McLean R.; Suits M.D.; Boraston A.B.; Atherly T.; Ziemer C.J.; Williams S.J.; Davies G.J.; Abbott D.W.; Martens E.C.; Gilbert H.J. (2015). Human Gut Bacteroidetes can utilize yeast mannan through a selfish mechanism. Nature. 517 (7533) 165-169.
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