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Fungal neighbourhood watch: Elucidating the role of the environment and polymicrobial communities in host-pathogen interactions and antifungal drug resistance.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Fungi are a major cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Fungi are successful pathogens as they can adapt to a diverse array of environments encountered in the human host, and partake in a range of polymicrobial communities. Understanding these host-pathogen and polymicrobial interactions is key to enhancing our understanding of fungal pathogenicity and identification of novel diagnostic and antifungal targets.

Candida albicans causes a range of infections from superficial mucosal infections (i.e. thrush) to life-threatening system disease (i.e. candidiasis). During colonisation of the human host, C. albicans encounters fluctuations in pH, nutrient availability, quorum sensing molecules (molecules fungi and bacteria use to communicate) and carbon dioxide levels. In addition to environmental signals, C. albicans also directly interacts (cell-cell interactions) with other commensal and pathogenic microbes.

Our research focuses on how the local environment regulates the host-pathogen interaction through modulation of the fungal cell wall, and the role of polymicrobial interactions in disease progression and antifungal drug resistance (more details about my group can be found at http://www.hall-fungal-research.co.uk).

Using cutting-edge techniques in zerbrafish larval models, live cell imaging, molecular biology, cell biology, microbiology, immunology and biochemistry you will address how a medically important fungal pathogen interacts with its environment and the microbiota, and the consequences these interactions have on host-pathogen interactions and disease progression. For more details about the research project, please contact Dr Rebecca Hall ().

If you are an enthusiastic individual interested in starting a PhD then we would be delighted to hear from you. A background in biological sciences (i.e. microbiology, molecular biology, immunology) would be advantageous, and due to the competitive nature of the studentships, an upper class degree (2:1 or above) together with demonstrable research experience is highly desirable.

Please find additional funding text below. For further funding details, please see the ‘Funding’ section.
The School of Biosciences offers a number of UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC, NERC) PhD studentships each year. Fully funded research council studentships are normally only available to UK nationals (or EU nationals resident in the UK) but part-funded studentships may be available to EU applicants resident outside of the UK. The deadline for applications for research council studentships is 31 January each year.

Each year we also have a number of fully funded Darwin Trust Scholarships. These are provided by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and are for non-UK students wishing to undertake a PhD in the general area of Molecular Microbiology. The deadline for this scheme is also 31 January each year.

Funding Notes

All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. We have a thriving community of international PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students able to find their own funding or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship, Islamic Development Bank).

The postgraduate funding database provides further information on funding opportunities available View Website and further information is also available on the School of Biosciences website View Website


Hall RA Dressed to impress: Impact of environmental adaptation on the C. albicans cell wall. (2015) Mol Microbiol. 2015 Apr 2. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13020

Hall RA, Gow NA. Mannosylation in Candida albicans: role in cell wall function and immune recognition. (2013), Mol. Microbiol. 90, 1147-1161

Hall RA, Bates S, Lenardon MD, Maccallum DM, Wagener J, Lowman DW, Kruppa MD, Williams DL, Odds FC, Brown AJ, Gow NA. The Mnn2 mannosyltransferase family modulates mannoprotein fibril length, immune recognition and virulence of Candida albicans. (2013), PLoS Pathog. 9, e1003276

Hall RA, Turner KJ, Chaloupka J, Cottier F, De Sordi L, Sanglard D, Levin LR, Buck J, Mühlschlegel FA. The quorum-sensing molecules farnesol/homoserine lactone and dodecanol operate via distinct modes of action in Candida albicans. (2011), Eukaryotic Cell, 10, 1034-42.

Sheth CC, Hall R, Lewis L, Brown AJ, Odds FC, Erwig LP, Gow NA. Glycosylation status of the C. albicans cell wall affects the efficiency of neutrophil phagocytosis and killing but not cytokine signaling. (2011), Med. Mycol., 49, 513-524.

Hall RA, De Sordi L, Eaton R, Bloor JW, Steegborn C, and Mühlschlegel FA. CO(2) acts as a signalling molecule in populations of the fungal pathogen Candida albicans (2010). PLoS Pathog., 6 :e1001193.

Hall RA, Cottier F, Mühlschlegel FA. Molecular networks in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. (2009), Advances in Applied Microbiology, 67, 191-212

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.80

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