We are currently advertising DTP and CASE studentships for October 2019 start. The deadline for applications is the 26th November 2018.

27 / 09 / 2018

A multidisciplinary study of cyanobacterial DMSP production via a novel pathway (LEASMITH_U19DTP)

how to apply

Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is one of Earth’s most abundant organosulfur compounds. It is an anti-stress compound with key roles in global nutrient and sulfur cycling, and climate, including a potential role in limiting global warming. DMSP is produced by certain bacteria, plants and algae. One cyanobacterium, Trichodesmium erythraeum, also produces DMSP but lacks any known DMSP synthesis genes. Cyanobacteria are amongst the most abundant organisms on the planet, accounting for approximately a quarter of carbon fixation. If marine cyanobacteria synthesise DMSP then this would significantly expand global production of this compound. However, little is known about the environmental importance or scale of cyanobacteria in DMSP cycling and how or why cyanobacteria produce DMSP.

 This exciting project will:

- Identify the pathway/genes involved in cyanobacterial DMSP production.

- Determine whether DMSP is synthesised by a wide range of cyanobacteria.

- Study the importance of DMSP production in cyanobacteria and the environment.

 You will be trained how to grow and study the physiology and biochemistry of different cyanobacterial species. Training in genetics/biochemistry will allow you to identify key DMSP synthesis genes and the role of DMSP in environmentally important cyanobacteria. Using bioinformatics and molecular ecology tools, you will establish how widespread cyanobacterial DMSP production is and the abundance/diversity of the key genes in natural marine environments. This project will help determine the role of marine cyanobacteria in the production of DMSP, a process central to sulfur biogeochemical cycling. For related papers please see Lea-Smith et al (2016), PNAS; Curson et al (2017, 2018), Nature Microbiology.