Location Monash University, School of Biological Sciences
Discipline
App. deadline Applications accepted year round/until filled
Funding
  • Scholarship available
Eligibility Open to international applicants

PhD Position: Experimental evolution of the Bacteriophage-adherence to mucus (BAM) model

A PhD position is available to work with Dr Jeremy J Barr at Monash University, School of Biological Sciences, in Melbourne, Australia. We are looking for motivated and enthusiastic PhD students with an interest in microbiology to start in March 2017. Successful candidates will be fully funded for 3.5 years with an annual tax-free stipend of approximately $26,000 AUD, which includes tuition and medical cover. Both Australian/NZ domestic and international students are eligible to apply. To learn more, visit thebarrlab.org

 

Project details. The major research focus of our lab is the Bacteriophage Adherence to Mucus (BAM) model, which describes a novel, non-host-derived layer of mucosal immunity mediated by bacteriophage (Barr et al., PNAS 2013, 2015). Bacteriophage (phage) abundances are increased in mucosal surfaces, compared to the surrounding environment of animals ranging from cnidarians to humans. In vitro studies utilizing tissue culture cells with and without mucus demonstrated that this increase in phage abundance is mucus-dependent and protects the underlying epithelium from bacterial infection. Metagenomic analysis found many mucus-adherence domains in phages associated with diverse animals, suggesting an astounding diversity and specificity to the BAM model.

 

The aim of this PhD project is to investigate the capacity of the BAM model to evolve increased adherence, or to switch adherence to different mucosal surfaces. To accomplish this we will design a microfluidic device to mimic the microenvironment of a mucosal surface experiencing constant fluid flow and mucus secretion dynamics. Using this microfluidics system, we will exert a selective pressure on bacteriophage replication within the mucus layer, and assay subsequent genetic and phenotypic changes that occur.

 

The project will provide key insights into the adaptability of the BAM model and will establish new paradigms for the co-evolution between bacteriophages and eukaryotic mucosal surfaces. The project is flexible, highly interdisciplinary, and the successful application will develop skills in microbiology, engineering, molecular biology and the operation of ‘lab-on-chip’ microfluidic devices.

 

Monash and the School of Biological Sciences. Monash University is a member of Australia’s Group of Eight coalition, and is internationally recognized for excellence in research and teaching. The School of Biological Sciences is a dynamic unit with strengths in ecology, genetics, evolutionary biology and microbiology. The university is located in Melbourne, Australia, which was recently named the world’s most liveable city for a sixth consecutive year.

 

How to apply. Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree with first-class Honours, a Master’s degree or an equivalent qualification (more information can be found here). To apply, please send a CV, academic transcript, and a brief outline of your research experiences to jeremy.barr@monash.edu. Review of applications will begin immediately and short-listed candidates will be asked for more information and invited to interview.



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Further Information / Application Enquiries

A/Prof Jeremy Barr