[Taxacom] Graduate position: University of St Andrews, Secondary Metabolism in Lichens

Daniel Barker db60 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Wed Feb 18 04:55:34 CST 2009

Dear Taxacom,

I am re-advertising this position, because it has recently become even 
better due to the addition of a new supervisor and institute.

We are seeking applicants for a PhD position at the University of St 
Andrews and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.


Supervisors: Dr Daniel Barker, Dr Terry Smith and Dr Shiela Unkles 
(University of St Andrews) and Dr Rebecca Yahr (Royal Botanic Garden 

Lichens are a symbiosis between a fungus and an alga or cyanobacterium. 
Lichens form a major component of many environments, particularly 
extreme environments such as desert and arctic regions. Secondary 
metabolites are chemicals produced by an organism that are not directly 
involved in growth, but are beneficial to its well-being, for example 
through interactions between species such as competition and defense. 
Many secondary metabolites are useful to humans, for example as 
antibiotics or dyes.

Secondary metabolites are particularly common in lichen-forming fungi. 
An understanding of the biochemical detail of secondary metabolism, its 
regulation, and the evolutionary forces acting on these are often poorly 
understood. The gene families involved in secondary metabolism are often 
known, but the link between a specific secondary metabolite and the gene 
coding for the specific enzyme activity to make it, is often unknown.

This proposal aims to link specific secondary metabolites to their 
cognate genes. The project will focus on investigating the evolution of 
the polyketide class of secondary metabolites, and the underlying 
biosynthetic and regulatory genes, in Porpidia. Porpidia is a 
lichen-forming fungal genus in which secondary metabolites vary both 
between, and within, species. The student will carry out "wet" 
laboratory work and some fieldwork, and will develop and use novel 
bioinformatics algorithms to integrate data on secondary metabolites and 

Informal enquiries to Daniel Barker, db60 at st-andrews.ac.uk

For further details, including how to apply, please see:



A successful candidate would receive funding (covering fees and stipend) 
as a Natural Environment Research Council CASE studentship. This funding 
is ONLY possible for candidates who meet NERC's criteria:


In particular, please note the section "Residence" (pp. 3-6).

Best regards,


Daniel Barker
The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland :
No SC013532

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