Phages in the infant gut: good, bad or neutral?


Bacteriophages are the most abundant biological entity on the planet. They can be beneficial for human health by killing off pathogenic bacteria, but phages that integrate into the bacterial chromosome can also be detrimental to human health, by encoding genes that make the bacteria more virulent. The presence of different types of phages in the infant gut can, therefore, have widely varying consequences for long-term health, an aspect of the microbiome that is currently vastly understudied.

We are recruiting a student at the Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB) on the role phages play in the establishment of the gut microbiota, particularly focused on beneficial bifidobacteria. The student will join the team of Dr Evelien Adriaenssens, an expert in phage biology, and that of Dr Lindsay Hall, an expert in the infant gut microbiome. In this project, the student will use established methods to discover new bacteriophages against bifidobacteria and investigate their effects on natural bacterial communities in the infant gut through model systems and next-generation sequencing.

The ideal candidate has at a minimum an Upper Second-class Honours degree (or equivalent), experience working in a microbiology lab and most importantly a passion for bacteriophage research. The PhD student will be based in the new 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, health and disease.

The QIB offers a wide range of training opportunities for its student cohort, laboratory and computational scientific support and funding to attend national and international conferences, preparing the student for any career of their choice.