Biosynthesis and Reprogramming of Bacterial Organelles


Self-assembling biological machines designed in nature have captured the imagination of scientists and public alike for decades, given their remarkable biological significance in cells and clear potential to sustainably transform and enhance human life. Many bacteria have evolved highly powerful metabolic organelles, named bacterial microcompartments, which play critical roles in carbon fixation, pathogenesis and microbial ecology. The bacterial microcompartment comprises an icosahedral protein shell, resembling virus capsids, which encapsulating key catalytic enzymes and molecules.

By exploiting multidisciplinary approaches, this fully-funded PhD project aims at exploring the molecular basis of the formation process of bacterial organelles and developing new synthetic biology tools and microscopic screening to engineer and reprogramme metabolic organelles for novel functions, such as biocatalysis, energy production, improving agricultural yields, and molecular delivery and therapeutics. The long-term goal is to provide solutions for bioengineering and biotechnology, to meet the grand challenges in food and energy security and human health.

The student will work in the world-leading laboratories at the University of Liverpool and University of Newcastle, and will gain extensive training in interdisciplinary skills ranging from molecular genetics, biochemistry, microbiology to biophysics, cryo-electron microscopy, and synthetic biology. The UoL provides state-of-the-art infrastructures and expertise for this project, including Synthetic Biology Foundry GeneMill, Centres for Cell Imaging, Proteome Research, Computational Modelling and Metabolomics. The student will also be involved in highly active collaborations with national and international institutions and industrial partners, representing excellent opportunities for career development and networking.

This project is ideal for molecular biology, biotechnology and biochemistry students, with a strong interest in synthetic biology and microscopic imaging and a willingness to learn interdisciplinary skills.

Contact for more details of the project:

Professor Luning Liu


Applications should be made by emailing  with a CV and a covering letter, including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project/s and at the selected University. Applications not meeting these criteria will be rejected. We will also require electronic copies of your degree certificates and transcripts.

In addition to the CV and covering letter, please email a completed copy of the Application Details Form (Word document) to , noting the additional details that are required for your application which are listed in this form. A blank copy of this form can be found at:


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

Studentships are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for 4 years. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK rate only, a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) and stipend. We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.



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