Metabolism of the human gut symbiont Ruminoccocus gnavus at the mucosal surface


This PhD studentship provides an exciting opportunity for the successful candidate to address fundamental questions on the spatial adaptation and metabolism of gut symbionts and acquire state-of-the art in both in silico and in vivo approaches.

The human body harbours a diverse and dense population of commensal bacteria which exert key functions in terms of human health. However, the development of microbiome-targeted therapies to restore human health is currently hampered by a lack of mechanistic understanding of bacterial metabolism at the strain and niche level therefore limiting targeted approaches to achieve a clinically-desired effect. This work will define mechanisms of adaptation of key human gut symbionts to mucus and explore mucin glycan metabolism as novel strategies to target beneficial microbes at the strain level.

The PhD student will join a dynamic multidisciplinary team at the Quadram Institute Bioscience and receive mentoring and training in relevant experimental models and state-of-the art bioinformatics tools. Through this PhD studentship, the student will acquire expertise in microbiology and glycobiology and in computational and in vivo skills.

The student will benefit from the established network of international collaborations of the host Labs in this research area. Training will embrace research practice and theory, management, communication (to scientific and lay audiences), intellectual property, teamwork and technical writing. The student will present their work to internal seminars and to relevant Microbiology International meetings. The possible commercial issues relating to the impact of this research on human health will be highlighted and the student will be encouraged to participate into outreach activities and innovative competitions.

Bell A, Brunt J, Crost E, Vaux L, Nepravishta R, Owen CD, Latousakis D, Xiao A, Li W, Chen X, Walsh MA, Claesen J, Angulo J, Thomas GH, Juge N. Elucidation of a sialic acid metabolism pathway in mucus-foraging Ruminococcus gnavus unravels mechanisms of bacterial adaptation to the gut. Nat Microbiol. 2019;4(12):2393-2404

Singh D, Lercher MJ.Network reduction methods for genome-scale metabolic models. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2020 Feb;77(3):481-488. doi: 10.1007/s00018-019-03383-z.

Bell A, Severi E, Lee MO, Monaco S, Latousakis D, Angulo J, Thomas GH, Naismith J, Juge N.Uncovering a novel molecular mechanism for scavenging sialic acids in bacteria.J Biol Chem. 2020 Jul 15:jbc.RA120.014454.