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WR DTP project: Assembly principles of the CO2-fixing liquid-liquid phase separated organelle, the Pyrenoid

Department of Biology

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Dr L Mackinder , Dr J Blaza No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
York United Kingdom Biochemistry Bioinformatics Cell Biology Microbiology Molecular Biology Plant Biology Structural Biology Synthetic Chemistry

About the Project

Pyrenoids are liquid-liquid phase separated organelles found in the chloroplasts of diverse eukaryotic algae and are responsible for ~30% of global carbon fixation. They are assemblies of the CO2 fixing enzyme Rubisco phase-separated around thylakoid membranes. This project will use cutting-edge methods to give unprecedented insights into the structure and function of pyrenoids. Key Rubisco binding proteins involved in pyrenoid assembly will be identified bioinformatically across diverse algae and then functionally characterized using cutting-edge algal molecular biology and biochemistry. Their 3D structure when bound to Rubisco will be determined using cryo electron microscopy. Generated data will help guide the engineering of a pyrenoid into higher plants which has the potential to boost crop yields by up to 60% and to enhance biobased carbon capture technology to combat climate change.

More details on the Mackinder lab: and the Blaza lab:

The White Rose DTP in Mechanistic Biology is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the BBSRC WR DTP in Mechanistic Biology. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:
Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,285 for 2020/21)
UK tuition fees (£4,473 for 2021/22)
Research support and training charges (RSTC)
We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. If English is not your first language, you will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for your country. Please check our website:

START DATE: 1st October 2021
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