Recruitment to the NRPDTP programme for October 2018 is now closed.

02 / 10 / 2017

Characterising and optimising protein targeting in cyanobacteria for optimal production of biofuels, electricity, industrial and high value compounds (LEASMITH_U18DTP)

  • Research Area Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy
  • Partner The University of East Anglia (UEA)
  • Supervisor Dr David Lea-Smith -
  • Application Deadline 27/11/2017
how to apply

Cyanobacteria are environmentally important organisms and potential biotechnology platforms, due to their ability to convert solar energy and carbon dioxide into biomass. They are complex prokaryotes, containing a cell wall consisting of the plasma and outer membranes, and a series of internal thylakoid membranes. Understanding how proteins are targeted to different membranes will facilitate development of industrial stains for production of chemicals, electricity and biofuels. The student will join a laboratory investigating cyanobacterial photosynthesis, biochemistry and cell biology and the manipulation of strains for commercial applications. Examples of recent publications from the investigator include: Lea-Smith et al (2016) Plant Phys. 172(3):1928-1940; Ermakova et al (2016) Plant Phys. 171(2):1307-19; Lea-Smith et al (2015) PNAS 112(44):13591-6; Lea-Smith et al (2014) Plant Phys. 165(2):705-714; Lea-Smith et al (2013) Plant Phys. 15(32):13611-8; McCormick et al (2013) Energy & Env. Science 6(9):2682-2690. The successful candidate will use a combination of molecular biology, microbiology and microscopy to identify targeting sequences in cyanobacteria and the role these play in directing proteins to different membranes within the cell. Proteins that improve growth and facilitate export of industrial compounds or electricity will be targeted to appropriate membranes using the identified targeting sequences. Suitable strains will then be grown in large-scale photobioreactors to determine their suitability for commercial applications. The student will have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills in microbial genetics, biochemistry and industrial biotechnology and interact with researchers in the Norwich Research Park, QMUL and the University of Cambridge.