Plant cell wall hydrogels: exploring hierarchy of structure (KHIMYAK_U18DTP)

University of East Anglia
October 05 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Plant cell walls (PCW) represent a wide diversity of materials generated from crop and plant residues with huge potential for application as biofuels and important source of dietary fibre in human foods. PCW consist of several different polysaccharides (cellulose, xyloglucan, pectin, -glucan etc.) which are assembled into a hierarchical structure with high levels of heterogeneities resulting from the diversity of polysaccharide components, the complexity of their interactions with each other and the presence of domains of different levels of ordering (i.e. amorphous, semi-crystalline and ordered regions). The detailed assessment of structural and functional heterogeneities in PCW mimics will be important for understanding the mechanism of formation of PCW and correlating the strength and extent of inter-chain interaction with mechanical properties of PCW.

This PhD studentship aims to elucidate functional heterogeneities in hierarchical PCW hydrogels. By generating PCW mimics from different multiple polysaccharide sources we will achieve control of the extent of heterogeneities. These features will be compared with natural PCW.

Based on the unique NMR infrastructure in NRP, we will use multiphase NMR spectroscopy to assess PCW hydrogels based on multiple carbohydrate components across different lengths scales and dynamic regimes. A very high complexity of PCW will be tackled by our unique experimental expertise linking structural and biosynthetic approaches across different length scales and dynamics heterogeneities developed in collaboration between UEA and QIB.

This project is also an excellent training opportunity for a young scientist to gain research skills in both the preparation and advanced characterisation of novel biomaterials.

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. Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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