Many species of bacteria use iron as an electron donor for lithotrophic growth and make significant contributions to biogeochemical mineral cycling. This presents a considerable physiological challenge. Rates of iron oxidation are poor and the reaction product ‘rust’ is toxic if produced internally. To overcome these challenges bacteria performing ferrophototrophy have evolved to couple Fe(II)-oxidation outside bacteria with C- and N-fixing pathways inside bacteria. Key to this process is a porin-cytochrome complex, PioAB, that spans the bacterial outer membrane. The complex performs Fe(II)-oxidation at the external cell surface and conducts the electrons released by that process to periplasmic electron acceptors. This project aims to resolve the molecular basis for PioAB Fe(II)-oxidation and electron import across bacterial outer membranes.
The project aims to:
- Develop an experimentally verified model of the structure and thermodynamic landscape for electron transfer through PioAB.
- Reveal residues and cofactors critical to Fe(II)-oxidation by PioA:PioB.
Methods including bacterial genetics, protein purification, spectroscopy, protein structure determination and enzyme assay will be used during the project which is supervised by Prof Julea Butt and Prof Tom Clarke. The Butt lab with its strong track record of combining biochemistry and spectroscopy to provide new insights into redox catalysis by metalloproteins will lead to biochemical, spectroscopic and kinetic studies. The Clarke lab has expertise in methods including X-ray diffraction and small-angle scattering techniques to resolve protein structure and will lead on structural aspects of the project. Together as a team, we hope to gain a substantial new molecular understanding of an important contribution to bacterial metabolism.
You can welcome email Prof Julea Butt (email@example.com) for Informal enquiries.
The Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) is open to the UK and international candidates for entry in October 2022 and offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship placement (PIPS) during their study. The placement offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NRPDTP programme. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Tuesday 25th January, Wednesday 26th January and Thursday 27th January 2022.
You can visit the Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership pages for further information on eligibility and the application process.
Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.