01/05/2019

Biophysics of light-induced motility in microalgae: where motility meets metabolism

This job offer has expired


  • ORGANISATION/COMPANY
    The University of Warwick
  • RESEARCH FIELD
    PhysicsBiophysics
  • RESEARCHER PROFILE
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE
    31/08/2019 00:00 - Europe/London
  • LOCATION
    United Kingdom › Coventry
  • JOB STATUS
    Full-time
  • HOURS PER WEEK
    36.5
  • OFFER STARTING DATE
    02/09/2019

At a glance:

The proposal focusses on the mechanisms by which motile microalgae (prominent e.g. within phytoplankton) sense, elaborate and respond to light. We aim to understand how these ecologically and industrially important microorganisms combine motility (phototaxis) and intracellular processes (photosynthesis and photoprotection) to optimise light exposure.

This interdisciplinary project will combine biophysical experiments, involving micromanipulation, optical tweezers and image analysis; and mathematical modelling, using concepts and approaches from statistical mechanics and dynamical systems.

The project, based in the lab of Marco Polin (Physics, U. Warwick), hinges on an exciting new collaboration with Dimitrios Petroutsos (CEA Grenoble), expert in photosynthesis; and Idan Tuval (IMEDEA, Mallorca), expert in biophysical modelling.

More in depth:Photosynthetic microorganisms are fundamental for life on Earth: at the base of major food webs (e.g. in oceans), and contributing about half of the global oxygen production. They are also promising systems to produce complex chemicals and biofuels, with unparalleled conversion rates of solar energy to carbon-rich molecules and negligible pressure on arable land.

Light is essential for these microorganisms, and it plays two roles: i) variations in time and space provide information used by the cell to regulate its biology; ii) its absorption provides energy driving the intracellular mechanism of photosynthesis. To thrive, cells integrate these two functions in ways currently not well understood. Crucially, they need to avoid excess light: as little as ~10% of standard daylight can already lead to serious cellular damage and potentially death. Motile photosynthetic microorganisms avoid excess light in two ways: by detecting light and redirecting their motion (phototaxis; information-role); or as a result of energy absorption through intracellular biochemical responses which lower the amount of light captured (photoprotection; energy- role). Despite several observations pointing strongly at a fundamental link between phototaxis and photosynthesis, these are still mainly studied as separate processes.

In this project we want to fill this gap and understand how motile microalgae combine these responses into a coherent and effective strategy for light management. We will focus on the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, an important model system in biology for both motility (its flagella are virtually identical to human cilia found in lungs and brain) and photosynthesis; and a species relevant for biotechnological applications.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Marco Polin on m.polin@warwick.ac.uk.

A full 3.5 year studentship (fees and maintenance) at the UKRI level is available, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This studentship is available for UK and EU students. Candidates should hold or expect to hold a UK 1st (or high 2.1) class degree, or equivalent. Nominal Starting date is Sept 2nd, but it can be delayed up to 6 months if necessary.

The Physics Department is proud to be an IOP Juno Champion and a winner of an Athena Swan Silver Award, reflecting our commitment to equal opportunity and to fostering an environment in which all can excel.

References

  • J. Arrieta, A. Barreira, M. Chioccioli, M. Polin, and I. Tuval. Phototaxis beyond turning: persistent accumulation and response acclimation of the micro alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Scientific Reports 7, 3447 (2017).
  • G. Allorent G and D. Petroutsos. Photoreceptor dependent regulation of photoprotection. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 37, 102 (2017).

 

 

Required Research Experiences

  • RESEARCH FIELD
    PhysicsBiophysics
  • YEARS OF RESEARCH EXPERIENCE
    1 - 4

Offer Requirements

  • REQUIRED LANGUAGES
    ENGLISH: Good

Skills/Qualifications

We are looking for outstanding candidates coming from a quantitative background (Physics or a related subject area), who are strongly driven and are excited about biophysics.

This studentship is available for UK and EU students. Candidates should hold or expect to hold a UK 1st (or high 2.1) class degree, or international equivalent. The nominal starting date is Sept 2nd, but it can be delayed up to 6 months. 

The Physics Department is proud to be an IOP Juno Champion and a winner of an Athena Swan Silver Award, reflecting our commitment to equal opportunity and to fostering an environment in which all can excel.

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
The University of Warwick
United Kingdom
Coventry
CV4 7AL
University of Warwick

EURAXESS offer ID: 403938

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