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What is the role of the bacterial cytoskeleton in the Rhizobium-legume symbiosis? (MILLERU18DTP2)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr B Miller
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Nitrogen fixation is the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia and is a part of biogeochemical nitrogen cycling. Rhizobium bacteria are found in soil and can form a symbiosis with the roots of legume plants, where the bacteria fix nitrogen and provide a direct source of ammonia to the legume. The Rhizobium-legume symbiosis has significant impact on agricultural practices greatly reducing pollution generated by the use of nitrogen fertilisers.
Although bacterial growth has been studied for many years, very little is known about the mechanism of growth during the entry of Rhizobium bacteria into their cognate pea-plant. We will study the poorly understood mechanism of polar growth amongst Rhizobiales and monitor the diversity of polar cytoskeletal protein assemblies by analysing soil samples from crop-fields at several UK locations.
During this multi-disciplinary research the student will learn a wide variety of scientific approaches and methodologies.
Microbial molecular biology technologies including the generation of knockout mutations and fluorescent protein fusions will be used to study the polar protein assemblies in Rhizobium bacteria. The student will also have the opportunity to analyse bacterial samples from diverse soil samples using sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. Finally, mutants will be tested for their ability to establish successful symbiosis with pea plants. In order to keep abreast of the scientific field, the student will attend national and international conferences.
We are looking for a highly-motivated applicant with strong interest in microbiology, plant biology and molecular biology and who can thrive in a multi-disciplinary research laboratory.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.
The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team.
For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:
Type of programme: PhD
Start date of project: 1st October 2018
Mode of study: Full time
Length of studentship: 4 years

Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

Funding Notes

Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa – 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.
Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements. For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website:

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