Organisms and Environment

Organisms and Environment is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Biosciences research programmes (PhD, MPhil, MD).

The Organisms and Environment research division focuses on the biology of whole organisms and their roles and interactions in changing ecosystems, in infection and health and at the genetic level. Our aim is to understand the ecological, health and genetic consequences of environmental change on biological diversity. Our approach is to focus on processes and prediction, combining ecological, experimental and molecular approaches, in contrasting groups of organisms. All the major groups are studied, including animals, plants, bacteria, archaea, protozoa, filamentous fungi and yeast.

Research areas are broadly divided into three areas:

  1. Genomes, Diversity and Adaptation
  2. Individuals, Ecosystems and GlobalChange
  3. Microbes, Infection and Communities

PhD projects tend to be multidisciplinary in nature, and range from field ecology to experimental microbiology to population genomics. The group has a field centre in Sabah, Malaysia and O&E faculty are also responsible for maintaining the School’s Molecular Biology and Analytical support facilities. In this large and lively research division, many projects are run in collaboration with Universities and Research Institutes elsewhere in the UK and abroad, as well as with other departments (such as Earth and Ocean Sciences, Social Sciences, City and Regional Planning) within the University.

Further information on researchers and facilities within Organisms and Environment is available on the School's website.

Distinctive features

  • Seminar Programme: The Organisms and Environment Division has an active seminar programme to enable postgraduate students to meet top international researchers and also present their own research

Contacts

Administrative contact(s)

Beth Beckett

Administrative contact

The spectrum of research activities include:

  • Microbial and soil ecology
  • Endangered Species research
  • Genomics, metagenomics, population and environmental genetics of plants, animals and microbes
  • Ecotoxicology in aquatic and terrestrial environments
  • Community ecology including pest management
  • Interactions between organisms and their food resources
  • Behavioural and evolutionary ecology
  • Chemical ecology and waste management
  • Population dynamics in freshwater and terrestrial systems
  • Predator-prey and host-parasite interactions
  • Epidemiology and pathogenesis, including medically important bacteria.

For details of ongoing projects and collaborations, please visit the web pages of individual Organisms and Environment Division members.

Projects

We currently have a range of projects available to apply for within the School of Biosciences, some of which are offered as part of our range of DTP involvements.

Structural analysis of receptors for insecticidal toxins

Insecticidal toxins produced by bacteria such as Bacillus thuringiensis and Lysinibacillus sphaericus are the active agents in these important biological pesticides and can also be exploited in the production of insect-resistant transgenic plants.

The functional proteome of the microbiome and its role in endotoxin modulation

Inflammatory disease such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, are all increasing in the global population, as are many other non-communicable diseases.

Developing a 3rd generation sequencing based method for identification of bacteria without culturing

There are many instances in which we need to identify bacteria, but are unable to grow them in the laboratory, for example, urinary tract infections, wound infections and bacterial vaginosis.

Detection of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) in common gut bacteria and fecal samples

The role of bacteria and microbes in cancer has received considerable attention due to the involvement of Helicobacter pylori and viruses such as HPV, EBV and Hep B and C.

The smell of infection – detecting infectious disease and determining mechanisms underlying the spread of disease on social networks

Social organization facilitates contacts between individuals altering the probability of parasite transmission (Perkins et al., 2009).

Funding

There are currently no funding opportunities available.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Programme information

For programme structure, entry requirements and how to apply, visit the Biosciences programme.

View programme

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Related subjects

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