Virus evolutionary strategies: the role of mutations in facilitating successful transmission in multiple host systems.
Viruses emerging from endemic cycles remain a huge threat, as demonstrated by the recent emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) and Chikungunya virus (CHIKV). Understanding how viruses emerge from endemic cycles remains a little-studied aspect of infectious disease, and this lack of knowledge hampers our ability to identify and prevent new epidemic outbreaks. RNA viruses are responsible for many of the world’s emerging diseases; their ability to change and adapt to new hosts results from the plasticity of their genome, and the incorporation of numerous mutations, albeit at low levels, known as ‘minority variants’. While minority variants are well known in RNA viruses, it is unclear what impact these have on viral replication and virulence. Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) require genome diversity to enable them to readily switch between the selective pressures of two dissimilar hosts, the vertebrate and the mosquito. Genome plasticity also increases the likelihood that they may adapt to new hosts, including humans, resulting in epidemic outbreaks. This project will investigate the hypothesis that the generation of specific minority variants is beneficial to the virus swarm and increases the likelihood of endemic virus transmission. The successful candidate will undertake experiments to advance our knowledge in virus evolution and replication dynamics, they will undertake cloning, viral infections and genome and protein analysis to advance our understanding of how viruses have evolved to generate successful infections.
Studentship available from September 2019
Please quote FNS GS 2019-14 on your application.
Please go to https://www.keele.ac.uk/study/postgraduateresearch/studentships/virusevolutionarystrategiestheroleofmutationsinfacilitatingsuccessfultransmission/ and quote FNS GS 2019-14 on your application.
Funding support is provided as follows:
100% UK/EU tuition fees for 3 years commencing Academic year 2019/2020 (UK/EU fees are £4,327 per annum for 2019/20).
Stipend support for three years at Research Council rates (2019/20 stipend £15,009 per annum). Some support for conference attendance will be available.
Minimum of BSc (2:1 or higher) in Biological Sciences or equivalent discipline, with strong preference for candidates with experience of virology or infectious disease research.
Overseas students are eligible but need to pay the difference between UK/EU fees (£4,327 per annum for 2019/20) and overseas fees.