Round 2 Projects

Applications for the NRPDTP projects in the second recruitment round with an October 2024 entry are now open for applications from HOME candidates only. The deadline for applications is midnight on Thursday 9th May 2024. For information on eligibility and how to apply please follow the 'How to Apply' dropdown menu

  • Signalling mechanism enhancing root nodule symbiosis. (CHARPENTIER_J24DTP)

    Nitrogen (N) acquisition is fundamental for plant growth. However, N is poorly available in soils, leading to extensive and costly chemical fertiliser applications. It is estimated that 50-70% of nitrogen-derived fertilizer provided to the soil is lost, giving rise to soil and water pollution as well as global warming through emissions of nitrous oxide. Lowering fertilizer input and breeding crops with better nitrogen use efficiency is one of the main goals of plant nutrition research.

  • Membrane protein-metabolite interactions important in mitochondrial energy metabolism for burning fat as heat. (CRICHTON_U24DTP)

    Mitochondria in our cells harness energy through the breakdown of nutrients to produce ATP through oxidative phosphorylation. However, in specialised brown adipose tissue, popularised as ‘good fat’, the conventional process is ‘short circuited’ by a mitochondrial membrane protein, UCP1, which allows the tissue to burn off calories as heat. When engaged, the protein helps mammals fight cold temperatures and can contribute to calorie expenditure in humans to maintain metabolic health.

  • Ticking clocks, thriving crops: Developing climate-resilient crops through circadian biology (DODD_J24DTP)

    Climate change poses a significant threat to our food supply, but you can be part of the solution! In this groundbreaking research project, we're investigating how plants adapt to changing seasons and temperatures, with a focus on ensuring robust crop production despite environmental challenges. You’ll explore the fascinating world of circadian rhythms and their role in shaping the life cycle of winter-grown crops. Using Arabidopsis plants as a model,

  • Controlling greenhouse gas emissions by targeting bacterial G-quadruplex DNA/RNA structures (GATES_U24DTP)

    As well as carbon dioxide (CO2), other important climate-active gases are known to drive global warming. Importantly, nitrous oxide (N2O), is the third most abundant greenhouse gas with 300-times greater global warming power than CO2 and it also contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer. Production of N2O is a by-product of modern farming, where after applying fertilizers, soil-based bacteria consume nitrate and generate N2O that is emitted from soil to the atmosphere.

  • ThAnoS: thiopeptide antibiotics biosynthesis (GHILAROV_J24DTP)

    The acute problem of antimicrobial resistance incentivises us to develop innovative approaches to antibiotic discovery & production. Natural products that form the basis of our current medical arsenal are often difficult to synthesize, purify, or engineer. In recent years bioinformatically predicted peptide antibiotics of RiPP group (ribosomally-synthesized post-translationally modified peptides) attracted attention as a flexible drug discovery platform. RiPPs are made by the ribosome, and converted into bioactive molecules by multi-protein enzymatic complexes.

  • New tools for old foes: developing a new class of antimicrobial metallodrugs. (LORD_U24DTP)

    Bacterial infections are the second-leading cause of deaths globally, and whilst antibiotics have undoubtedly saved millions of lives, their extensive use, coupled with pathogen evolution has resulted in drastic increases in prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains. Amongst these, Gram-negative pathogens pose the most serious risks to health, as they are intrinsically resistant to many antibiotics. New antibiotics for treating resistant strains is a global research priority, however, little is known about metallodrugs that can treat Gram-negative pathogens or the impact they could have on human health.

  • Building the vertebrate spine: the neck to thorax transition. (MUNSTERBERG_U24DTP1)

    Segmentation of the main body axis is a fundamental and conserved feature of all vertebrate embryos. It results in the metameric organization of the vertebral column and its associated muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. The vertebral column is produced by somites, transient aggregates of cells generated by unsegmented paraxial mesoderm (PSM) on each side of the neural tube. We have previously determined how gene expression is dynamically controlled along the anterior-posterior axis of developing chick embryos to generate the different sections of the spine

  • Epigenetic profiling of cereal fungal invaders. (SAUNDERS_J24DTP1)

    Wheat blast and rusts are fungal diseases that severely damage cereal production worldwide. During infection, these fungi secrete proteins into wheat plants to reprogramme host plant circuitry, supporting their own growth and development. A subset of effectors, termed avirulence factors (Avr), can be recognised by corresponding host resistance (R) proteins, rendering the pathogen avirulent and halting its growth. However, host recognition creates strong evolutionary pressure on pathogen Avr effectors, favouring their modification to evade immune responses.

  • The role of the extracellular matrix in cardiomyocyte developmental. (SMITH_U24DTP1)

    Cardiomyocytes are the muscle cells of the heart, responsible for the production of contraction forces. During development, cardiomyocytes withdraw from the cell-cycle and switch from proliferative, growth to non-proliferative, hypertrophic growth. It is becoming clear that the extracellular matrix molecules play a key role in regulating this switch, and specifically heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs). In this project, the student will investigate how HSPGs facilitate differential growth factor signalling to promote the switch from proliferation to maturation in cardiomyocytes

  • Exploring the roles of a novel prion-like protein in stress resistance and ageing (TAYLOR_U24DTP2)

    Ageing is associated with increased rates of disease, including neurodegenerative conditions. Prion-like proteins (PrLPs) play major roles in age-associated neurodegeneration, but their physiological functions are often poorly understood. Defining these functions would increase our understanding of the behaviour and importance of PrLPs, and how and why they become dysregulated with age. This is critical to understanding the key roles they play in age-related neurodegeneration.

  • Dietary adaptation of Bifidobacterium in the weaning infant gut. (WARRENF_Q24DTP)

    The infant gut is a complex, constantly adapting ecosystem which shows distinct shifts as a consequence of introducing solid foods, which can have lifelong health impacts. An important nutrient in weaning foods is starch, a key dietary component in the adult diet. The genus Bifidobacterium has several adaptations making it a key starch degrader during the dietary transition of weaning, but the molecular mechanisms are not well understood. This project, using data and microbial isolates from a large cohort study of infants,

  • Developing improved diagnostic tests for vitamin B12 (WARREN_Q24CASE)

    This PhD opportunity is ideal for graduates in biochemistry or biomedical science with a keen interest in protein science and its application in developing new diagnostic tests and assays. Recently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued comprehensive guidelines on diagnosing and treating vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12, crucial for red blood cell and nerve formation, is mainly sourced from animal and dairy products, making plant-based diets deficient in this nutrient.