Antibiotic impacts on disease susceptibility in wild fish. Self funded Biosciences PhD Ref: 3155

About the Research Project

Location: Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, EX4 4QJ

Academic Supervisors:
Lead supervisor: Professor Charles Tyler (University of Exeter)
Co-supervisors: Dr Ben Temperton(University of Exeter), Drs David Bass and David Verner Jeffries (CEFAS), Dr Joanne Cable (Cardiff University)

Project Description:
Microbial communities that populate external facing (and gut) surfaces are fundamental to health and stressors that induce shifts in these microbial communities can increase infection risk and disease status, but almost nothing is known in this regard for fish.  Antibiotics, designed to kill bacteria, are widespread in the environment and are causing international concern because of the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) affecting our ability to combat human diseases. Antibiotics can also adversely affect bacteria that play vital roles in the protection of animals from disease infection though the disruption of animal associated microbiomes, but again this has not been investigated in freshwater fish. This studentship will harness DNA sequencing technologies to better understand the microorganism assemblages in the skin and gills of freshwater fish living in UK clean and polluted rivers, and assess how exposure to selected antibiotics affects skin and gill microbiomes and susceptibility to infections with diseases that are known to impact wild fish populations.

This is a truly multi-disciplinary project assembling a highly experienced team with all the relevant expertise to ensure a successful studentship outcome together with end-user engagement, through the participation of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences, and the technology company, Oxford Nanopore Technologies. The supervisory team includes a fish physiologist/ ecotoxicologist/molecular biologist (Tyler, University of Exeter), a computational biologist with expertise in multivariate statistical analysis of microbial community data and viral genomics (Temperton, University of Exeter), an expert in microbial organisms and their evolution (Bass, Cefas), a leading authority on antibiotic microbial resistance ( Verner Jefferies, Cefas) and a parasitologist (Cable, Cardiff University). The associated laboratories are exceptionally well equipped and resourced to make this project possible, and facilitate this studentship. All of the required molecular, in-life, and bioinformatics requirements are established in the partner laboratories and will be made available to the student. The student will be further benefit in both support and experience from their integration into the large associated research teams with extensive external partnerships (e.g. with large pharmaceutical and DNA technology companies).

For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor, Professor Charles Tyler (

Things to consider:
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Entry requirements

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree from a UK university, or equivalent, in Biological Sciences. Experience in molecular techniques is desirable.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.

How to apply

You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter and two academic references. Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this project. You may also be asked to upload verified transcripts of your most academic qualification.

Please quote reference 3155 on your application and in any correspondence about this project.


Application deadline:24th September 2018
Value:This project is self-funded
Duration of award:Not applicable
Contact: PGR Enquiries