University of Birmingham
PhD project in molecular aspects of food microbiology: Effect of nanotechnology on mixed microbial populations.
Supervisors: Dr Kostas Gkatzionis and Dr Tim Overton
Funding: Fees + Stipend (Due to funding restrictions open to UK/EU applicants only)
A PhD position is available at the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham, recent recipient of a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its outstanding track record in collaborative research and training.
This multidisciplinary project aims to investigate the responses of mixed microbial communities to nanotechnology applications, with a particular focus on food processing and food safety. It is well known that microorganisms rarely exist alone in nature and exist as part of complex microbial communities (including as multispecies biofilms), and are frequently present in foods in this state. The microbial interactions occurring in mixed microbial communities and their responses to external factors are complex and different than those concerning single species. These microbial functions and responses can favour the survival of particular species and strains, induce cross-protection and mutations, and promote microbial resistance. Hence, there is a strong societal need to develop new approaches to control of microbial levels in foods to ensure they are safe for consumption.
Nanotechnology is an emerging trend offering promising applications for controlling microorganisms. However, the impact of nanomaterials and nanotools on mixed microbial populations is not well understood and is the focus of this project. The research is poised on the intersection between molecular microbiology, food microbiology and food processing, and reflects the strengths of the University of Birmingham in these three areas. The exact programme of research will be defined by discussion between the student and supervisors, and will focus on two main areas:
Effect of nanotechnology on complex microbial communities:
- Effect on microbial community composition.
- Differences between direct delivery of nanomaterials and application of nanotools.
- Multispecies biofilms and microbial hosts.
Mechanism of action of nanomaterials:
- Size of the nanoparticles and mode of killing.
- Accumulation and location of the nanoparticles in the microbial cell.
- The role of nanomaterials in the development of microbial resistance to metals and/or antimicrobials.
The research will involve the use of molecular microbiology techniques (such as PCR, reporter gene assays, next generation sequencing), flow cytometry and imaging techniques (such as fluorescence and confocal microscopy). http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/facilities/genomics/index.aspx
Applicants require a 2:1 or higher in molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry or in a related subject area. Specific interest or previous work in molecular microbiology would be an advantage.
Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Kostas Gkatzionis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications need to be made via the University of Birmingham Admissions Portal:
Closing date: Friday, 31 May 2013