Genomic analysis of metabolic diversity in the enigmatic algae Euglena (HALL_E24DTP1)

University of East Anglia

About the Project

Euglena are protists – eukaryotic microorganisms with a unique evolutionary history that has left them with a highly diverse and unusual biosynthetic capability. There are nearly 1,000 known species covering a variety of lifestyles, including photosynthetic, mixotrophic, and heterotrophic lineages.  

These enigmatic species produce many bioactive metabolites used in the production of biofuels, pharmaceuticals, cosmeceuticals, and nutraceuticals – making Euglena a group of interest in industrial applications. Little is known, however, about the diversity and distribution of metabolic processes across different species, or the genetic control and evolutionary history of these pathways in Euglena. This project will use the latest genomic technologies to generate new Euglena genomes, providing a unique opportunity to study novel biological questions about their metabolism using comparative genomics.  

The student will assemble and annotate high-quality genomes and transcriptomes and conduct analyses to: describe the metabolic potential across species using comparative genomics techniques to explore differences and create a pan genome for the Euglena genus; determine genomic variation between species with different lifestyles by investigating the distribution of metabolic pathways and key components of the cell architecture; and investigate mechanisms of gene expression control in key metabolic pathways in culturable Euglena species by generating new transcriptomic and metabolomic data sets. 

The project will be conducted at the Earlham Institute, a BBSRC-supported research centre in genomics, and data driven bioscience. This project aligns with the Institute’s BBSRC-funded Strategic Programme, Decoding Biodiversity, providing access to resources, mentorship, and expertise. The student will also have access to a range of training and the support of an active student body. 

Start date

October 2024

Entry requirements

At least UK equivalence Bachelors (Honours) 2:1 or UK equivalence Master’s degree. English Language requirement (Faculty of Science equivalent: IELTS 6.5 overall, 6 in each category). 

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