Location University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Science
App. deadline 01/04/2018
  • Scholarship available
Project ID SD2&3
Eligibility Australian and New Zealand residents

Pathogenesis mechanisms in Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae x2 projects

Mycoplasma are ‘genome-reduced’ pathogens. These organisms have developed sophisticated mechanisms to colonise and invade host cells, form biofilms and evade immune detection. They are extremely successful pathogens found in humans agriculturally-important plants, animals and insects where they often establish a chronic disease state.

We are seeking two candidates that wish to be form part of a larger group undertaking studies to understand how M. hyopneumoniae colonises and infects epithelial cells in the respiratory tract of pigs.

Candidate 1: Whole genome sequencing of pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains of hyopneumoniae show few apparent differences between strains. There are, however, a high number of different mod genes, whose gene expression seems to be controlled via phase variable regulons aka ‘phasevarions’. However, standard methods of genome analysis do not provide information on DNA methylation and the epigenetic changes that are central to shaping the virulence profiles of organisms with phasevarions. This project aims to: 1) undertake whole genome sequencing of mycoplasma strains using the PacBio system which provides information on DNA methylation patterns; 2) screen our M. hyopneumoniaetransposon mutant library with the aim of determining how on/off switching of individual mod genes effects these methylation patterns; and 3) identify gene subsets under control of each copy of mod.

Additional supervision will be provided by Drs Daniel Bogema (UTS/NSW DPI) and Cheryl Jenkins (NSW DPI).

Candidate 2: Proteomics is used to investigate protein function and cellular location with an emphasis on characterising posttranslational modifications. Understanding how surface proteins function to enable pathogenesis underpins disease mitigation strategies that could lower reliance on antibiotics. This project will be based on transcriptome studies that seek to determine how M. hyopneumoniae influences gene expression in a target host cell during the invasion process. It will also involve screening and characterising mutations in key virulence genes.

Co-supervision will be provided by Associate Professor Garry Myers.

These are Ausgem-funded research projects. The successful candidates will be awarded $26,682 per annum over 3.5 years. To apply, please send your CV and a ½ page expression of interest.

New Zealand graduates are considered as domestic students and are exempt from international student fees.

Applicants are required to have the equivalent of a BSc Honours or Masters by Research degree and must also apply for admission to UTS' PhD degree program.

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Further Information / Application Enquiries

Prof Steven Djordjevic