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Understanding and Regulating the Genetic Transition of Yeast to the Filamentous Fungal Phenotype; Developing new tools for Industrial Biotechnology and Biorefining.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Bryant
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Aberystwyth University are seeking to recruit a 3-year PhD student to work on a project entitled: Understanding and Regulating the Genetic Transition of Yeast to the Filamentous Fungal Phenotype; Developing new tools for Industrial Biotechnology and Biorefining
IBERS have a proprietary strain of yeast that is being developed as a fermentation platform for the production of bio-renewable fuels and commodity chemicals for use in both academia and industrial biotechnology (IB) and is aligned with the low carbon, energy and environment grand challenge sector of the Welsh Government. The yeast, Candida tropicalis (Y4), exhibits 2 morphological phenotypes during fermentation, 1) typical budding yeast; and 2) filamentous hyphae formed during the stationary phase. The basis of and transition to hyphae formation in C. tropicalis is not as well characterised as in other Candida species, and a more complete understanding of the genes controlling the regulation of the hyphal phenotype is of both scientific and commercial interest in order to maximise the production of bio-renewable commodities and to reduce the cost of post fermentation processing. IBERS have sequenced, assembled and annotated the complete genome of Y4, in addition to having developed and validated a synthetic biology molecular tool kit enabling gene deletion variants of known and putative hyphal genes in Y4 to be rapidly made and exploited for biorefining.

Aber Instruments (AI) have developed the biomass probe technology that enables quantification of yeast biomass accumulation on-line in real-time during fermentation and are the world leader in supplying this “gold standard” technology to the brewing industry. Biomass probes use a range of radio frequencies to detect changes in cell-growth resulting from the increase in capacitance generated by the multiplication of living cells. Recently, Aber Instruments have extended their markets to include other IB applications, such as the production of liquid biofuels and have received commercial interest in being able to quantify filamentous fungal growth during fermentation. However, the algorithms for the AI probe were developed to monitor budding yeast e.g. Saccharomyces cerevisiae and new mathematical models need to be generated for filamentous fungi. AI therefore have a commercial need for biomass probe data to be developed on more complex microbial systems with a filamentous phenotype to develop new market opportunities. The use of IBERS Y4 yeast in conjunction with the biomass probe offer the following advantages; 1) Y4 budding yeast biomass can be quantified from the traditional algorithms; 2) the transition from budding biomass to filamentous would be detected and quantified from alterations in the capacitance frequencies; 3) using Y4 hyphal gene deletion variants will enable accurate, clean spectral data to be collected for subsequent multivariate analysis enabling new hyphal specific algorithms to be generated for the quantification of filamentous fungi; 4) help this strain to be developed into a truly effective industrial strain optimised for fermentation processing and 4) translation of these findings in a commercial setting will lead to market development.

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree, and be available to take up the studentship by end of January 2016, or as soon as possible thereafter.
To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (email [Email Address Removed] or address below)
1. A completed Postgraduate Application Form, plus two references submitted by the deadline. Application and reference forms may be downloaded from
2. A completed KESS participant application form (put the reference number AU10007 in the top right hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS application forms are available to download at the link below.
3. A PhD proposal of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description.
Informal enquiries should be made to David Bryant at [Email Address Removed] or 01970 622294.
Quote Reference AU10007

Funding Notes

Part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme. KESS PhD scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. Each scholarship is exempt from registration fees, provides a stipend of £14,002 pa, plus a budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training. The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory, and PhD Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three year period. Eligibility: on starting the scholarship you must be resident in the Convergence Area of Wales ( and eligible to take paid employment in the area on completion of the scholarship.

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