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What are the lifetime beneficial effects of early life “programming” in the rumen microbiome?

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  • Full or part time
    Prof S Huws
    Prof C Creevey
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The rumen microbiome is unique, composed of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, methanogens and phage, a combination rarely found in other ecosystems. Manipulation of microorganisms in the rumen of cattle, sheep and deer is a promising strategy for lowering their environmental impact while increasing their efficiency. In adults this complex microbiome is very resistant to change but recent research has identified that “programming” the microbiome (where a favourable microbiome is imprinted via dietary or management interventions) in early life can result in life-long beneficial effects. However, we do not understand the mechanisms driving this effect.

As part of the recently funded METH-ABATE project, this studentship will work with colleagues in AFBI leading animal trials and in vitro studies to understand the life-time effect of early-life microbial programming in sheep. In particular, the project will focus on studying anti-methanogenic compounds that will reduce the environmental impact of ruminants.

The student will join the Huws lab in the Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast, as part of an island-wide project team working closely with project partners in Teagasc and NUI Galway. The student will gain experience in running animal experiments, microbiology and more generally ‘omic technologies.

The project will be supervised by Professor Sharon Huws and Professor Chris Creevey of Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences/Institute for Global Food Security.

Skills/experience required:

Ideally, students will have a background in animal science, biology or microbiology, with a minimum degree classification of 2.1 in their Bachelor’s degree (or with qualifications and experience deemed by the University to be equivalent). However, any students in these broad areas and with interest in the topic are invited to apply as training will be provided as part of the PhD programme to fill in any gaps in their skill sets.

Funding Notes

The successful applicant's tuition fees and stipend will be paid from the METH-ABATE project, which is funded jointly by the Republic of Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). Any non-UK/EU applicants must be prepared to pay International tuition fees, which will not be fully funded by the project.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.40

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

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