Location University of Technology Sydney, ithree Institute
App. deadline Applications accepted year round/until filled
  • Scholarship available
Eligibility Open to international applicants

The role of protozoan predation in pathogen evolution - ithree institute

Marine bacteria are food for protozoa such as amoeba and ciliates. Bacteria that live and grow in communities anchored to a surface – for example the shells of tiny ocean-dwelling organisms - have an increased chance of survival. In response to predation, bacteria also express a number of defensive traits (proteases, toxins, iron binding proteins) that may have inadvertently led to them becoming human pathogens: a hypothesis we are are testing. Understanding the selection pressures exerted on disease-causing organisms in their natural environment will improve our understanding and approach to disease prevention, control and surveillance. 

The successful PhD applicant will determine the impact of protozoa on bacteria by exploring the genes (transcriptomics), proteins (proteomics) and metabolites produced in response to predators. Grazing experiments will allow us to identify traits that are expressed in response to protozoa and these traits will be tested for their roles in interactions with macrophages. In addition, predation is predicted to increase with increasing global temperatures as the numbers of predators and their grazing rates are influenced by temperature. This will result in stronger selection pressure for the evolution of defensive traits. We will develop an understanding of the impact increased grazing pressure has on bacteria so we are better able to predict new, emerging pathogens or increased disease potential of known pathogens as climate changes.

Supervisor: A/Prof Diane McDougald and Dr Shyang Sun

Send your CV and a ½ page expression of interest to diane.mcdougald@uts.edu.au

Applicants must be able to commence PhD studies by Jan, 2018. 

This role is within the ithree institute in the Faculty of Science, one of the largest faculties at UTS, which is Australia’s top ranked young university, with a particular focus on research translation. The ithree institute brings together a team of scientists with diverse skill sets who collectively address key challenges in the understanding and control of infectious diseases in humans and animals. 

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Further Information / Application Enquiries

A/Prof Diane McDougald