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Development of cyanobacterial exopolysaccharides (EPS) for healthcare applications

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Amtmann
    Dr S Colloms
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Cyanobacteria are the “green E. coli” of Industrial Biotechnology. As photosynthetic prokaryotes they combine the advantages of algae and higher plants (photo-autotrophy, sustainability, CO2 usage) with those of bacterial systems (fast growth, easy culturing and transformability). Several research groups worldwide, including the groups at Glasgow University, have begun to assemble a molecular toolbox enabling Synthetic Biology and Industrial Biotechnology in cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria produce exopolysaccharides, which are large polymers using a variety of sugars as building blocks. Both the size and the complexity of EPS from cyanobacteria exceed those found in other bacteria. In nature, EPS function in protection, detoxification and water storage. Due to their protective and emollient features they also have many commercial applications, particularly in the health care sector.

The aims of this PhD project are (1) to screen EPS of various cyanobacterial strains for beneficial properties, (2) to understand the molecular processes underpinning EPS synthesis, and (3) to develop synthetic biology processes to modulate their properties.
The student will receive ample training and benefit from excellent complementary track records of the academic supervisors in the areas of molecular and systems biology (Amtmann), synthetic biology (Colloms) and glycobiology (Glycomar). Their laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology. The student will have the opportunity to carry out some of the research at Glycomar, based at the European Marine Science Park near Oban http://europeanmarinesciencepark.co.uk/, and receive training in bio-activity screening assays. The student will also be trained in ‘omics’ technologies, including Next Generation Sequencing and RNA-Sequencing at the Glasgow Polyomics Facility (http://www.polyomics.gla.ac.uk/).

The student will be incorporated into the College (MVLS) Postgraduate Research Training Programme, which operates a successful framework for monitoring student progress and providing courses in a range of transferable and specific skills.

Industrial collaborator:
Glycomar Ltd. http://www.glycomar.com/

Minimum requirements:
Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a first or upper second class UK honours degree or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.
At least 6 months practical laboratory experience in molecular biology

Desired qualifications:
Practical skills in sterile cell culturing (particularly cyanobacteria), cloning, transformation (particularly of cyanobacteria), HPLC and/or spectrophotometry, as well as excellent IT skills. Experience in working with industry (e.g. industrial internship).

Start date:
4 years starting 1 Oct 2017

Applications process:
Apply through the University of Glasgow online system for the PhD programme in Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology. http://www.gla.ac.uk/research/opportunities/howtoapplyforaresearchdegree/ Enter the project title; Development of cyanobacterial exopolysaccharides (EPS) for healthcare applications and name Prof. Amtmann as supervisor.

Funding Notes

Studentship and fees are fully funded (RCUK rate – current 2017/18 – £14,553 per annum) through an Industrial Partnership programme (University of Glasgow College of MVLS) and a CTP (BBSRC, IBioIC http://www.ibioic.com/).

EU and UK residents (see BBSRC criteria for eligibility) http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/documents/studentship-eligibility-pdf/

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