Synthetic Biology for Delivering Renewable Fuels with Shewanella (BUTT_U18DTP)

University of East Anglia
October 04 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Species of the Shewanella genus are non-photosynthetic proteobacteria notable for their ability to exchange electrons between their intracellular and extracellular environments. This behaviour attracts much interest for biotechnology where electricity production is coupled to waste-water remediation when electrons from the intracellular oxidation of organic matter are passed to the anode of a microbial fuel cell. Furthermore, the selective production of a reduced product can be driven by electrons delivered to the interior of bacteria by an electrode poised at an appropriate voltage for it to serve as a cathode.

By purifying and characterising proteins from the outer membrane of the model organism Shewanella oneidensis, the supervisors of this project have contributed to revealing the mechanism of electron transfer across this bacterium's electrically insulating lipid bilayer. This electron transfer is performed by tightly bound complexes formed of three proteins; two cytochromes and a membrane-spanning porin. Inspired by photosynthesis, this project will build on recent advances in the supervisors' laboratories and use novel synthetic biology to attach light-absorbing molecules to the extracellular surface of the porin:cytochrome complexes allowing the bacteria to perform the direct conversion of solar energy to renewable fuels.

This project will provide training in molecular biology, protein engineering, protein chemistry, photochemistry, microbial growth, protein purification, gas chromatography and NMR spectroscopy. The successful applicant will perform their research within the vibrant Centre for Molecular and Spectroscopic Biochemistry under the supervision of Professor Julea Butt, Dr Tom Clarke and Professor Steve Meech.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding notes

Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa - 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements. For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website:

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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