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Utilisation of microalgae for sustainable biotechnology

   Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr Jon Pittman, Prof Konstantinos Theodoropoulos  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Microalgae are a diverse group of photosynthetic freshwater or marine microorganisms that are widely studied with regard to their ecology or as model organisms in biological research. It is apparent that there is increasing potential in using microalgae for a variety of processes, particularly when making use of the natural variation and ‘adaptive plasticity’ of these organisms to adapt or acclimate to gain specific characteristics, or when coupled with powerful molecular techniques that allow their genetic engineering and formation of novel traits. There is particular interest in the use of microalgae in sustainable biotechnology - the development of novel ‘green’ processes for solving some of the world’s urgent needs such as for the production of high value products, for renewable energy resources or for environmental clean-up, such as from municipal wastewater or polluted freshwater due to mine drainage. Recent projects in the Pittman lab are investigating the use of microalgae for bioremediation purposes, such as through the accumulation of toxic metals, or the potential of microalgae as a sustainable resource for producing metabolites with nutritional or pharmaceutical applications, or for biofuels. This project can be tailored following further discussion with interested applicants, to further investigate and develop these organisms for sustainable biotechnology strategies. The project will have the opportunity to provide training in a variety of experimental techniques including molecular biology, biochemical and cell biology skills, and also with the potential of gaining computational modelling skills, depending on the background of the applicant.

Application Enquiries

Please contact Dr Jon Pittman - [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This PhD project is open to students with their own funding/scholarship. The fees are £32,500 per annum for overseas students, and £14,500 per annum for home students.
The start date is negotiable.


Charles E.D., Muhamadali H., Goodacre R., Pittman J.K. (2019) Biochemical signatures of acclimation by Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to different ionic stresses. Algal Research 37: 83-91
Dean A.P., Hartley A., McIntosh O.A., Smith A., Feord H., Holmberg N.H., King T., Yardley E., White K.N., Pittman J.K. (2019) Metabolic adaptation of a Chlamydomonas acidophila strain isolated from acid mine drainage ponds with low eukaryotic diversity. Science of the Total Environment 647: 75-87
Figueroa-Torres G.M., Pittman J.K., Theodoropoulos C. (2021) Optimisation of microalgal cultivation via nutrient-enhanced strategies: the biorefinery paradigm. Biotechnology for Biofuels 14: 64
Ibuot A., Webster R.E., Williams L.E., Pittman J.K. (2020) Increased metal tolerance and bioaccumulation of zinc and cadmium in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii expressing a AtHMA4 C-terminal domain protein. Biotechnology & Bioengineering 117: 2996-3005
Monjed M.K., Robson G.D., Pittman J.K. (2020) Isolation of fungal strains for biodegradation and saccharification of microalgal biomass. Biomass & Bioenergy 137: 105547

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