Animal Health, Microbiomes and the Holobiont
Sustainability of ruminant production is of concern to society because of its implications for the environment, the economy and food security. Microbiomes associated with the host play a key role in health, welfare and environmental efficiency in ruminant production systems. However, despite the information already available, we lack the insights to precisely link the causes and mechanisms of microbial influence on ruminant phenotypes. This is because the interconnection and communication between the animal and its different microbiomes have never been studied in a deep, integrated way.
This studentship is part of an EU Horizon 2020 project (ACRONYM: HOLORUMINANT). The goal of the project is to elucidate the role of ruminant-associated microbiomes and their interplay with the host in early life and throughout fundamental life events using a holistic multi-omics approach to characterise the acquisition and evolution of microbiomes from different body sites, their inheritability and their influence on the host’s resistance to disease and environmental efficiency of production. The studentship will specifically: determine microbiomes’ functions by combining multi-level information for microbes, host (in this case dairy cows) and their interaction; define microbiomes’ roles during challenging life periods such as perinatal, weaning, and after exposure to pathogens; and evaluate the effect of ruminant microbiomes on critical phenotypes for sustainable production, health and welfare. The studentship will also use culturomic approaches to isolate and subsequently characterise microbes. This multi-level analysis will allow the identification of novel microbial markers for monitoring, predicting and selecting phenotypes of interest.
This studentship is unique as it allows the student to work across Queen's University Belfast and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and to extend their network of expertise through the Holoruminant project involving partners from across the world. It will also provide the student with highly sought after skills in Animal Science, Microbiology and Computational Biology, providing string training for a future in science.
The project will be supervised by Professor Sharon Huws (School of Biological Sciences), Dr Conrad Ferris (AFBI), and Professor Chris Creevey (School of Biological Sciences).
Start Date: 1 October 2022
Duration: 3 years
How to apply: Applications must be submitted via https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php
Skills/experience required: BSc Agriculture, Animal Science, Microbiology or a closely related discipline with a minimum of a 2.1. An MSc in an aligned discipline is also desirable.