Reconstructing microbial genomes from environmental samples and their impact on greenhouse gases


We are looking for a highly motivated student, interested in Bioinformatics (metagenomics), global warming, and metabolism-centric interpretation of ecosystems. In this 4-year funded DTP, the student will investigate microbes in the environment that are key players in the cycling of the greenhouse gas methane, utilising metagenomic datasets and software available in the host labs.

The main objectives of the PhD are to a) improve metagenomic assemblies and non-redundant gene catalogs of bacterial communities, b) improve existing software to enable genome reconstructions in highly complex environmental samples, and c) investigate genes involved in methane metabolism and finding novel orthologues, nucleotide level variants under selection and hosting microbes of the latter.

This PhD offers training in computational biology, machine learning, high-performance computing and bacterial metabolism, the opportunity to visit international workshops and conferences. Further, the student will have the chance to visit close scientific collaborators of this project in Uppsala (Sweden), Bordeaux (France) and Madrid (Spain) to train and exchange knowledge with international experts. The ideal candidate will have experience in computational biology (Linux environment, one or several programming languages among R/Perl/Python/C++). Knowledge of topics like metagenomics, genomics, ecology, machine learning, and basic wetlab experience are a plus, but will be trained during the PhD.

The supervisory team is composed of Dr Falk Hildebrand and Prof Colin Murrell at the Quadram Institute for Bioscience, the Earlham Institute and the University of East Anglia. Both are renowned experts for metagenomics, bacterial communities, genome scale metabolic models and investigating the impact of environmental bacteria on our climate. They both frequently publish high-impact studies (in Nature/Science) on these subjects. Norwich is the leading microbiology and microbiota research centre in the UK and is an excellent platform for starting a scientific career.