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Understanding cholera pandemics

Project Description

Vibrio cholerae is the causative agent of Cholera. Millions of cases of the disease occur every year and these are responsible for $3.1 billion dollar financial losses. The 7th Cholera pandemic in recorded history is sweeping the planet and local epidemics are also of concern; the current epidemic in Yemen has amassed half a million cases in six months (

The “success” of V. cholerae depends on its ability to adapt to different surroundings. Normally, the bacterium resides in aquatic environments and persists by forming biofilms on the chitinous surfaces of plankton and shellfish. These biofilms are rapidly disassembled on ingestion by a human or aquatic host. Following host colonisation, disease is caused by the extrusion of toxins (1). Hence, to combat Cholera, it is essential to understand how the bacterium is able to switch between lifestyles; deciphering this process could be exploited disrupt pathogen ecology or develop vaccines. Recent work has generated a wealth of V. cholerae genome sequences (>10,000) from decades of outbreaks associated with the current worldwide pandemic (2,3). You will use these data to try an understand key genetic changes that influence lifestyle choice at the level of genes and their regulation. You will apply bacterial genomics, molecular biology, and host organism colonisation models, to study lifestyle changes (4).

For more information on Dr Grainger’s lab and research please visit:

Funding Notes

Project can be funded by the MIBTP-BBSRC training programme (UK and EU students) or a Darwin Trust scholarship (Worldwide). Please state in application which scheme you wish to be considered for. For MIBTP-BBSRC, you will need to fill in a University of Birmingham application AND the short notification form on the University of Warwick MIBTP portal (MIBTP is a doctoral training partnership between Warwick, Birmingham and Leicester).

Further details on the BBSRC MIBTP scheme are here: View Website
Deadline: 6 January, 2019
Number of Studentships available: 30
Stipend: RCUK standard rate (plus travel allowance and laptop).

To check eligibility visit: View Website


1. Nelson, EJ, Harris, JB, Morris, JG, Calderwood, SB, Camilli, A. (2009) Cholera transmission: the host, pathogen and bacteriophage dynamic. Nature Reviews Microbiology 7, 693-702.
2. Domman D, Quilici ML, Dorman MJ, Njamkepo E, Mutreja A, Mather AE et al. (2017) Science. Integrated view of Vibrio cholerae in the Americas. 358:789-793.
3. Weill FX, Domman D, Njamkepo E, Tarr C, Rauzier J, Fawal N et al. (2017) Genomic history of the seventh pandemic of cholera in Africa. Science. 358:785-789.
4. Manneh-Roussel J, Haycocks JRJ, Magán A, Perez-Soto N, Voelz K, Camilli A, Krachler AM, Grainger DC. (2018) cAMP Receptor Protein Controls Vibrio cholerae Gene Expression in Response to Host Colonization. mBio. 9:e00966-18.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.80

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

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