Use it or lose it: what determines the regulation mode of a given gene?

   School of Natural and Computational Sciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

All organisms must tightly control gene expression. In bacteria, gene regulation is mediated by either an activator or a repressor which binds DNA to turn a gene on or off, respectively. The two modes are mechanistically distinct but lead to the same functional outcome. This apparent equivalence raises a fundamental question: what determines the mode of control used for a given gene? The answer to this question is crucial to understanding the consequences of gene regulation in natural systems and for effective engineering of gene circuits in synthetic biology.

In this project, we will experimentally test the Demand Theory in a model bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. We will focus on regulators of xylose and histidine utilization whose function has been well characterized in our previous studies. The research will involve genetic engineering of P. fluorescens strains, followed by experimental evolution in laboratory media, genome re-sequencing of the evolved strains, and functional characterization of the relevant mutations (e.g., EMSA).

About the Position

We invite applications for a funded PhD scholarship to conduct the abovementioned research at the Auckland campus of Massey University. The PhD scholarship includes tuition fees and an annual stipend of NZ$ 35,000 (tax-free) for three years. Applicants must meet the entry requirements for admission to the PhD program at Massey University.

The ideal candidate should have a basic understanding of bacterial gene regulation and experimental evolution, and demonstrate an ability to undertake the practical and the theoretical aspects of the project. The supervisory team will include A/Prof. Xue-Xian Zhang and Prof. Tim Cooper at Massey University (Auckland, New Zealand), and Prof. Chaitanya Gokhale at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology (Germany). 

How to Apply

Please submit your application (or inquiry) via email to the main supervisor of this project: A/Prof. Xue-Xian Zhang ().  When applying, please ensure to include the required documents as follows:

 ·      A detailed curriculum vitae.

·      Degree certificates and academic transcripts for BSc and MSc (or equivalents).

·      A statement of your research interests, including previous experience and career goals.

·      Contact details of two academic referees.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

The project is supported by the prestigious Marsden Fund, Royal Society of New Zealand.

Register your interest for this project

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