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Postgraduate research project

Phosphonate cycling by marine phytoplankton

Fully funded (UK only)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Phosphonates are a large portion of the organic phosphorus in the oceans. The project will investigate how microbial eukaryotes contribute to global phosphonate environmental cycling. It will look at specific contexts such as harmful algal blooms and symbiosis.

Phosphonates form up to a quarter of the total dissolved organic phosphorus in marine environments. As a researcher on this project you will investigate how microeukaryotes contribute to building and utilising marine phosphonates. 

You will combine:

  • sample collection 
  • biochemical analysis, primarily Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) 
  • molecular laboratory work on genes involved in phosphonate cycling
  • bioinformatics

The laboratory work will involve phytoplankton cultures, particularly those of harmful algae.  You may also use laboratory models such as Tetrahymena. The bioinformatic work will involve sequence data analysis and statistics.

You will receive training in areas outside of your previous experience, and develop a broad set of research and communication skills. Your results will have important implications for:

  • phosphorus and carbon balance in the oceans
  • the dynamics of harmful algal blooms 
  • organismal interactions such as endosymbiosis 

You will develop new questions and directions based on your initial results.

This PhD is co-funded by the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton and a research grant in the Czech Republic. 1.5 years will be spent at the Institute of Microbiology Trebon, Czechia, where the supervisor leads a research group. The remaining 2 years will be spend in the supervisor’s group at the University of Southampton. The University of Southampton will confer the degree.

Project supervisors

Alongside your University of Southampton superervisors you will also be supervised by IMIC Czechia's Dr Eva Horakova.