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WR DTP project: Discovery and characterization of novel ligininase activities for the production of sustainable chemicals and biofuels

Department of Biology

About the Project

The need to reduce our reliance on fossil derived hydrocarbons for chemical and fuel production is pressing. Biofuels provide substantial reductions in carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels. Producing biofuels from the sugars released from degrading woody residues of crops provides an attractive way of making biofuels sustainable without impacting food security; however, the complexity and recalcitrance of this promising feedstock hampers energy and economic efficient usage by industry. In order to unlock this potential there is a need to identify new lignocellulose degrading enzymes. Previous work in our lab has resulted in the isolation of an exceptional lignocellulose degrading fungus identified as Parascedosporium putredinis. Preliminary studies of the organism’s secretome suggest an abundance of extracellular proteins are produced, most of them currently are unidentifiable using the extant genome.

The project will use ‘omics technologies to discover highly performing lignocellulose degrading enzymes for lignocellulose digestion in P. putredinis and will elucidate the molecular mechanisms that allow this fungus to be such an effective lignocellulose degrader. The project will also involve the characterisation of a family of novel ligninase produced by P. putredinis that has potential for biorefining applications.

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 White Rose Doctoral Training Programme 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)

International candidates (including EU) will be considered however they will need to have adequate funds to meet the difference in tuition fees. International tuition fees for 2021 entry is £22,250.

Not all projects will be funded; a limited number of candidates will be appointed via a competitive process.


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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