BBSRC iCASE Studentship in Nottingham - June 2020

This project will be based in the BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) of the Biodiscovery Institute and will be supervised by Professor Nigel P Minton.

BBSRC iCASE:  Fighting Infection, Curing Cancer, Saving the Planet

The unique properties of the bacterial endospore make it the ideal vehicle for the delivery of therapeutic agents to solid tumours, to the human or plant microbiome as well as being essential to the storage and maintenance of cultures used in large scale industrial fermentations. Accordingly, spores have a significant role to play in treatment of cancer, in countering the threat caused by antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in diseases of the human gut as well as in microbial production processes for chemicals and fuels that avoid the exploitation of environmentally damaging fossil reserves.

The bacterial endospore is one of the most highly resistant life-forms on earth and allows the organism to survive exposure to extremes of temperature, desiccation, disinfectants and radiation. The longevity of survival is astounding and can be measured not in tens or hundreds of years but in millions. In the current project, these properties will be refined and enhanced by using Synthetic Biology to re-wire the sporulation pathway such that spores are only produced under the required conditions and at a time when they are needed.

The project will focus on the positioning of known, and as yet unknown, genes essential to sporulation under the control of inducible promoters that are reliant on inducers that will not be encountered in the targeted niche. The suitability of promoters and their inducers will be tested using appropriate reporter genes. Known genes essential to sporulation will be taken from the literature, new targets will be identified using Transposon-directed Insertion Sequencing (TraDIS).  Initial work will test the suitability of the hybrid riboswitch-based promoter developed in the SBRC, RiboLac. Alternative systems will also be investigated.

This project will be based in the BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) of the Biodiscovery Institute and will be supervised by Professor Nigel P Minton. The PhD is in collaboration with the company FOLIUM SCIENCE who are using Guided Biotics™ act to maintain healthy animals and plants, by selectively reducing unwanted bacteria, particularly pathogens, in the target microbiomes, including that of the soil.

How to apply: applicants should be submitted via

Ask your referee to submit their reference via

This fully-funded studentship is available to UK students and EU students who have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of their studies. EU students who do not meet this criteria are eligible for a fees-only award.

Application should also be sent via email with the subject line ‘BBSRC iCASE Studentship’ to

References should be sent directly from the referees to


PhD Position - June 2020

A PhD position has become available at the BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) in Nottingham.

Systems Biology of Hydrogen Oxidising Bacteria for the Production of High Quality Feed Protein and Other Feed Ingredients.

We are seeking a motivated PhD student with interest in microbiology, industrial fermentation, analytical chemistry and big data analysis for a project that addresses the issues of climate change and food security by turning CO2 into feed and food protein.

Background: The world’s population is predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050, requiring significant increases in food production. The intake of protein per person is also expected to rise sharply. Hence, a substantial increase in food protein production is needed to meet demands. Conventional sources of protein are linked to greenhouse gas emissions and impact on biodiversity. Hence, there is an urgent need for innovative, sustainable protein production at scale. Hydrogen oxidising bacteria are a promising alternative as a sustainable source of so-called single cell protein. These bacteria fix CO2 and generate protein-rich biomass using hydrogen as a source of energy.

Aims and approach: The proposed study will be undertaken in close collaboration with our industrial partner, Deep Branch Biotechnology Ltd (, a Nottingham based company that is revolutionising the use of bacteria to capture industrial carbon into feed ingredients. The nutritional value of a feed or food product strongly depends on cellular protein content and composition. A deeper understanding of how different bacterial growth conditions impact these parameters would be beneficial to industry and further our scientific understanding of bacterial cell metabolism. Using a set of model organisms and industrial strains, the project will seek to address this by systematic variation of culturing conditions, compositional analysis of the created biomass and omics analysis of bacterial cells grown under the different conditions. In combination with predictive modelling the generated data will help to establish the molecular basis of the observed changes and potential underlying mechanisms. Conditions found to be favourable in the laboratory will be tested at large scale with industrially produced CO2. As part of the offered training, Deep Branch Biotechnology will offer the opportunity to gain experience at an industrial site.

Research environment: You will join the BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) Nottingham which is dedicated to the exploration of carbon dioxide-fixing bacteria. The centre is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities including laboratories dedicated to gas fermentation, high-throughput robotics, genetics and analytics (HPLC, GC, GC-MS, LC-MS-MS). This unique, interdisciplinary research environment provides opportunity to work with over 100 researchers that have expertise in molecular microbiology, chemistry, engineering, bioinformatics, computer science and systems biology. Part of the project will be carried out at Deep Branch Biotechnology.

The project will be supervised by Dr Klaus Winzer and Dr Ying Zhang of School of Life Sciences. Informal queries can be contacted to Dr Klaus Winzer.

How to apply: for your application please use the link given below or use

The deadline for application is until the space is filled.

Referees should submit their references via

Linder, T. Making the case for edible microorganisms as an integral part of a more sustainable and resilient food production system. Food Sec. 11, 265–278 (2019).

Pander et al. Hydrogen oxidising bacteria for production of single cell protein and other food and feed ingredients. Engineering Biology (2020); DOI:  10.1049/enb.2020.0005