Bacteriophages as key players in bacterial adaptation to the human gut


Bacteriophages are the most abundant biological entity on the planet, but their role in the human gut microbiome is poorly understood. In this project, the student will investigate how bacteriophages contribute to the adaptation of commensal bacteria to the human gut. Is bacteriophage infection detrimental or beneficial to successful colonisation of the gut? What is the function of prophages, i.e. phages that integrate into the bacterial genome? Findings from this work will help develop phage-based strategies for modulation of the gut microbiome for the benefit of human health.

We are recruiting a student on a BBSRC-funded project at the Quadram Institute Biosciences in the area of Gut Microbes & Health. The student will join the team of Dr Evelien Adriaenssens, expert in phage biology and viromics, and that of Prof Nathalie Juge, expert in glycobiology and host-microbe interactions in the gut. The student will work on a project that combines bioinformatics approaches with laboratory experiments to determine the role of bacteriophages in the gut microbiome.

The ideal candidate has at a minimum an Upper Second Class Honours degree in Microbiology, Biotechnology or Bioinformatics (or equivalent), experience with bacterial or bacteriophage culturing and most importantly a passion for bacteriophage research. Since this project combines both microbiology and bioinformatics approaches, we will consider appropriate expertise in either microbiology or bioinformatics with the desire to learn about the other aspects. The PhD student will be based in the purpose-built Quadram Institute building located on the Norwich Research Park, where they will join a vibrant research community at the interface between fundamental and translational research into gut microbiology. The QIB offers a wide range of training opportunities, laboratory and computational scientific support and funding to attend conferences, preparing the student for any career of their choice.


Turner D, Kropinski AM, Adriaenssens EM, 2021, A roadmap for genome-based phage taxonomy. Viruses 13:506

Mohaisen MR, McCarthy AJ, Adriaenssens EM, Allison HE, 2020, The site-specific recombination system of the Escherichia coli bacteriophage phi24B, Frontiers in Microbiology 11:2467

Bell A, Brunt J, Crost E, Vaux L , Juge N, 2019, Elucidation of a sialic acid metabolism pathway in mucus-foraging Ruminococcus gnavus unravels mechanisms of bacterial adaptation to the gut, Nature Microbiology 4:2393-2404