PhD SCHOLARSHIP – VIRUS STRUCTURE, Massey University, New Zealand

Project title: Solving the end-cap structure of a biological nanorod derived from the Ff bacteriophage (f1, M13 or fd)

Academic mentors: A/Prof Jasna Rakonjac; A/Prof Andrew Sutherland-Smith

This project aims to determine the cap structure of a versatile biological filament (Ff filamentous bacteriophage). Ff (M13, f1 or fd) phage is a natural and affordable platform for a wide array of technologies, from nano-scale batteries to cancer therapies and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Detailed structure of the end-caps will help understand how the Ff filamentous phage is formed naturally and will aid in developing/improving filamentous phage applications.

Fig1
The fine structure of the Ff end-caps has remained a mystery, as they constitute only 2% of the phage filament mass. We overcome this problem by assembling short rods (we named Ff-nano) where the end-caps amount to as much as 40% of the total particle mass. An interesting property of the Ff-nano particles is that they easily form 2D crystals. The Ff-nano particles will therefore enable analyses of the end-cap structure at a near-atomic resolution using cryo-electron microscopy and at atomic resolution using X-ray crystallography.

Fig2
Candidates with a BSc or MSc degree (1st class or high upper 2nd class Honours degree) in biochemistry, biotechnology, molecular biology or microbiology, with interest in structural biology, bacteriophage or nanotechnology are encouraged to apply.

Scholarship is for three years, covering the stipend (NZ$ 25,000 per annum, non-taxable), fees (tuition) and medical insurance. Palmerston North is a lively student city in the Central North Island, close to the ski fields, kayaking and fishing spots, beaches and tramping areas, as well as to Wellington, the New Zealand Capital.

Institute of Fundamental Sciences at Massey University is equipped with a modern structural biology suite and has access to the Australian Synchrotron.

The deadline for the application is 08/05/2017. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the studentship is filled.

Filamentous phage topic:
http://journal.frontiersin.org/researchtopic/2352/filamentous-bacteriophage-in-bionanotechnology-bacterial-pathogenesis-and-ecology

Contacts:
A/Prof Jasna Rakonjac; j.rakonjac@massey.ac.nz
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=N6BHLWoAAAAJ

A/Prof Andrew Sutherland-Smith; A.J.Sutherland-Smith@massey.ac.nz
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=yHcnJ2wAAAAJ&hl=en

Massey University PhD programme:
http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/learning/programme-course/programme.cfm?prog_id=-1005

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PhD available studying co-evolutionary dynamics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany

We are seeking a motivated PhD student to join our research team working
on eco-evolutionary dynamics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary
Biology in Plön, Germany.

We are looking for a highly motivated ecologist or evolutionary biologist
to join our group Community Dynamics at the Max Planck institute for
Evolutionary Biology (http://web.evolbio.mpg.de/comdyn) and the Kiel
Evolution Center (http://www.kec.uni-kiel.de). The ideal candidate is
fascinated by evolutionary and ecological questions, independent and
creative. She/he has a background in evolutionary biology, population
or community ecology. A MSc (or equivalent) in Biology is required.

There is a continuing interest to identify the interactions and feedback
dynamics between ecological and evolutionary changes at the same time
scale. This interest in eco-evolutionary dynamics is fuelled by the
need to understand how populations and communities could adapt to rapid
environmental change such as warming, invasion and pollution. Despite
this pressing need to understand eco-evolutionary dynamics, they are
not well understood in complex systems. In the project we aim to (1)
identify rapid adaptive changes in coevolving host-virus populations in
different food webs that differ in the types of species interactions and
complexity and to (2) comprehend how the dynamics of adaptive changes
alter the ecological dynamics and potential feedbacks. We will combine
controlled laboratory experiments, whole genome sequencing of populations
across different time points and modeling to characterize and compare
the adaptive dynamics and their consequences within the different food
webs. For more information on potential the project contact Lutz Becks
(lbecks@evolbio.mpg.de).

The institute offers a stimulating international environment and
an excellent infrastructure with access to state‐of‐the-art
techniques. The town of Plön is in the middle of the Schleswig-Holstein
lake-district within a very attractive and touristic environment near the
Baltic Sea, close to the university towns of Lübeck and Kiel. Hamburg
and Lübeck are the closest airports.

The position is funded for three years.  We ask applicants to send
a PDF file containing their CV and letter of motivation as well
as contact information of two references by e-mail to Lutz Becks
(mailto:lbecks@evolbio.mpg.de). We will begin reviewing applications
starting March 22th until the position is filled.

The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer.