Discovery of New Pathways for Marine Organosulfur Metabolism

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Abstract microscopic photo

An exciting opportunity exists to undertake a joint Chemical Biology PhD between the Universities of Manchester and Melbourne. This is a multidisciplinary project that will involve the synthesis of sulfur marine metabolites and the discovery of new microorganisms, new enzymes and new biochemical pathways used in cross-feeding relationships in the sea. Microorganisms produce a diverse array of small organo-sulfur molecules that act as “metabolic currencies”. Metabolic currencies facilitate the transfer of sulfur between organisms throughout the biological world. A comprehensive understanding of the metabolism of organo-sulfur molecules is crucial because of the importance of sulfur cycling in agriculture, food production, and carbon sequestration (the process of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere). Despite the critical importance of organo-sulfur metabolites, many of these chemical species remain poorly understood.

The candidate will be based in Melbourne and will spend one year at the University of Manchester. The project will discover and characterize new biochemical pathways and enzymes involved in the sulfur cycle. The project will involve synthetic chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology. The candidate will synthesize novel organosulfur metabolites and use these to discover new degrader organisms, and the molecular basis for their breakdown. Working in Manchester, the candidate will undertake biophysical characterization and structural studies on newly identified proteins.

The project will utilize state-of-the-art instrumentation including protein X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance, high-resolution mass spectrometry, isothermal titration calorimetry, size-exclusion chromatography multi-angle light scattering, and analytical high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and will be exposed to an exciting inclusive, collaborative, international research environment.

Supervision team

The University of Melbourne:

Professor Spencer Williams

Professor Laura Burchill

The University of Manchester:

Dr Yi Jin

Professor Robert Field

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Further details

The successful candidate will be based at University of Melbourne with a minimum twelve-month stay at the University of Manchester.

Applications for this project will close once a suitable candidate is identified.

To view the entry requirements please visit How to apply. Intending applicants should contact Professor Spencer WIlliams with a 1-2 page cover letter outlining your expression of interest, academic transcripts, and Curriculum Vitae.

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Apply for a joint PhD with the University of Melbourne and the University of Manchester.

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