Current Vacancies

PhD Studentship

Funder: BBSRC DTP
Ribosome profiling to reveal how temperature affects protein synthesis in diatoms.
 
Full Time Funding for UK & EU Students:
£TBA

School:
Environmental Sciences

Application Deadline:
28th November 2016

Description:
Diatoms are important microalgae with high biotechnological potential. Several aspects of diatom physiology including the silica frustule, lipid storage and photosynthesis are being applied to biotechnology. Areas of interest include nanotechnology, drug delivery, biofuels, solar capture and bioactive compounds. Given the ecological importance of diatoms and their applications for biotechnology, several different genetic tools have recently been developed in the Mock lab for the model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana such as genome editing by CRISPR/Cas9 and ribosome profiling. The application of both tools in this project will enable the PhD student to obtain fundamental insights into how temperature affects translation in the model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. Since there are no data available yet on how temperature regulates protein synthesis in any algae on a mechanistic level, we suggest to apply ribosome profiling to provide fundamental insights into if and how temperature affects a) the location of translation start sites, b) the density of ribosomes on messenger RNAs and c) the speed of translating ribosomes. Furthermore, the role of codon usage and its impact on tRNA evolution in relation to the recently discovered tRNA-derived small non-coding RNAs for protein synthesis in diatoms will be investigated using the genome editing tool CRISPR/Cas in combination with ribosome profiling. We aim to modify the genetic code in T. pseudonana in order to obtain first insights into codon usage, tRNA expression and the role of tRNA-derived non-coding RNAs. Data from this project will lay the foundation for synthetic biology with diatoms as translation underpins the synthesis of various different enzymes and materials (e.g. silica) used in algal biotechnology.
 
For more information, please contact Professor Thomas Mock via the Contact Page.
 
 

PhD Studentship

Funder: EnvEast DTP
Rapid adaptive evolution of microalgae is realized by two-tier genomes and transcriptomes.
 
Full Time Funding for UK & EU Students:
£TBA

School:
Environmental Sciences

Application Deadline:
8th January 2017

Description:
Microalgae contribute more than 25% of global annual carbon fixation, which is equal to the carbon fixation of all tropical rainforsts combined. They occur in diverse habitats including polar sea ice, an environment with extreme seasonal fluctuations of temperature and solar irrandiance. Our research group has recently shown that some microalgae have adapted to these challenging polar conditions by evolving highly diverged allelic copies of many genes in their genome. Remarkably, they can express the alternate copies of these alleles depending on the environmental conditions. We coined the term, the "two-tier genome" and the "two-tier transcriptome" to describe the exceptional nucleotide divergence and differential allelic expression, respectively. We hypothesise that this evolutionary innovation enabled these microalgae to survive under highly variable conditions. But how this has evolved and how diatoms "know" which copy to express remains a big, unanswered question. This project will investigate how allelic divergence is used in different microalgae to adapt by using cutting edge molecular tools (e.g. genome editing with CRISPR/Cas). Furthermore, we will test if allelic divergence can be used as a novel tool to engineer metabolic pathways for several biotechnological applications. Knowledge generated by this project will be instrumental for advancing ecological and biotechnological research with microalgae.
 
For more information, please contact Professor Thomas Mock via the Contact Page.