Fully Funded Studentship Reprogramming Antibiotic Biosynthesis (TRUMAN_J14DTP)

John Innes Centre School of Biological Sciences (UEA)


29 November 2013. Available from 1 October 2014. 

Dr Andrew Truman

The Project:

Bottromycin is a structurally unique natural product peptide that possesses potent antibacterial activity towards life-threatening infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Bottromycin is therefore a highly promising antibiotic candidate as it represents an entirely novel class of antibiotic, and we recently discovered the biosynthetic pathway to this molecule in a variety of Streptomyces bacteria. Its structural novelty means that enzymes with unusual functions will be involved in its pathway, including some reactions that are unprecedented in Nature. Mass spectrometry and X-ray crystallography will be to characterise protein structure and activity.

As well as studying purified enzymes from the pathway, the project will involve synthetic biology techniques to reconstruct the pathway in non-native bacteria. This will utilise genome-minimised Streptomyces coelicolor strains recently developed in the Bibb group. Bottromycin is a ribosomally synthesised and post-translationally modified peptide, which means that complex structural changes can be achieved by simple genetic mutations to the precursor peptide. The project will therefore also assess the substrate tolerance of the pathway and therefore its ability to generate novel clinically relevant derivatives.

This studentship will be supervised by Dr. Andrew Truman (primary supervisor) and Prof. Mervyn Bibb in the Department of Molecular Microbiology at the John Innes Centre. The Department of Molecular Microbiology has long-standing expertise in Streptomyces genetics and natural product biosynthesis. The project provides an exciting opportunity to develop skills in both the genetic manipulation and enzymology of a highly interest natural product pathway.

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Entry Requirements:

2:1 or 2:2 plus Masters. English Language – IELTS 6.5 overall with 6 in each category. 


Due to funding restrictions funding for PhD studentships from BBSRC is available to successful candidates who meet the UK Research Council eligibility criteria including the 3-year UK residency requirements. These requirements are detailed in the BBSRC eligibility guidelines: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf.

In most cases UK and EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the course are eligible for a full-award. Other EU nationals may qualify for a fees only award. All candidates should check to confirm their eligibility for funding.

The current stipend for 2013/14 is £13,726 per annum.

Making Your Application:
For further information and to apply, please visit the ‘How to Apply’ page on our website via the Apply button below.

Additional Information:
In keeping with the postgraduate training policy of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) all students recruited onto this programme will be required to undertake a three months internship during the second or third year of their study. The internship will offer exciting and invaluable experience of work in an area outside of research, and full support and advice will be provided by a professional team from the UEA.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) – a collaboration between the Norwich Biosciences Institutes and the University of East Anglia. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the Studentship Competition. The interview dates will be the 14th and 15th January 2014.

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