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What drives early-life “programming” in the rumen microbiome?

Project Description

Project details:

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 investigate the genetic foundations of early-life microbial programming through computational analysis of novel metagenomic and meta-transcriptomic data generated specifically for this project with partners in AFBI.

The student will join the Creevey lab ( in the Institute for Global Food Security as part of an island-wide project team working closely with project partners in Teagasc and NUI Galway.

Using tools and approaches developed in the Creevey lab, the student will investigate the rumen microbial community structure, diversity, abundance, function and activity in response to early-life programming. They will then develop novel ecological models of how early-life communities establish and persist to confer a beneficial life-time effect on the environmental impact and efficiency of these animals.

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

All applications MUST be submitted through

Specific skills/experience required by applicants:

Ideally, students will have a background in biology, microbiology, bioinformatics or computer science with some experience in the analysis of microbiome data. 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.

All applicants must meet the academic entry requirements:

Funding Notes

Only UK and EU students are eligible to apply. Before applying, it is strongly recommended that you read the full information on eligibility criteria available from DfE: View Website.

Please note in particular that not all successful applicants may be eligible to receive a full studentship (i.e. fees and stipend) - please read in detail the Residency and Citizenship requirements in the document linked to above.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 29.60

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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