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Name of scholarship/program

Molecular basis of the assembly and biogenesis of bacterial micro-compartments

Important description
Many bacteria have developed specialised proteinaceous organelles, named bacterial microcompartments, to increase the efficiency of metabolic reactions. Cyanobacteria account for an estimated 20-30 % of current global carbon fixation. They enhance their carbon fixation via one group of microcompartments called carboxysomes. These small biological “factories” are filled, in a high concentration, with Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase (RuBisCO) for carbon fixation, which are surrounded by a protein-based shell. This raises the questions of how the protein-based organelles are synthesized in the cell, and whether we can generate artificial compartments for the enhancement of specific metabolic activities.

This project will focus on the assembly and function of carboxysomes in a model cyanobacterium. The PhD student will use a number of approaches combining molecular genetics, biochemistry, confocal, electron and atomic-force microscopy to explore the organisation and dynamics of cyanobacterial carboxysomes, and identify their functions and physiological regulation in an astonishing variety of environments. It will lead to novel understanding of the molecular basis of structure and function of bacterial microcompartments. Advanced knowledge of the self-assembly of carboxysomes will create a unique opportunity to underpin synthetic biology approaches for the engineering of artificial microcompartments for improving carbon fixation and photosynthetic performance.

Highly motivated applicants with a solid grounding in molecular biology and biochemistry are encouraged to apply. Experience of project work in microscopy would be an advantage but not a prerequisite.

The BBSRC studentship covers PhD fees at the Home/EU rate and £14,000 pa Stipend.

To apply for this full studentship, please send a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter to Dr Luning Liu (luning.liu@liverpool.ac.uk), website: http://pcwww.liv.ac.uk/~lnliu . For more information, please contact Dr Luning Liu (luning.liu@liverpool.ac.uk), Department of Plant Sciences, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, L69 7ZB.

- molecular biology and biochemical approaches
- State-of-the-art in vitro and in vivo imaging methods including atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy and confocal/TIRF fluorescence microscopy
- genomic and proteomic analysis
- bioinformatics, computational modelling and biological engineering.
Training in all aspects of the project will be provided with access to state-of-the-art infrastructure in an RAE2008 top-rated department and the student will also have opportunities to work in the labs of the collaborators in the UK, EU and the State.

Eligibility and other criteria
(European/UK Students Only)
This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. The funding is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Application deadline
Applications accepted all year round

Additional information, and important URL


Liu, L.N. et al. (2012) Control of electron transport routes through redox-regulated redistribution of respiratory complexes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109: 11431-11436.
Liu, L.N. et al. (2011) Forces guiding assembly of light-harvesting complex 2 in native membranes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108: 9455-9459.
Liu, L.N. et al. (2008) Watching the native supramolecular architecture of photosynthetic membrane in red algae: Topography of phycobilisomes, and their crowding, diverse distribution patterns. J. Biol. Chem. 283: 34946-34953.

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