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Cardiff School of Biosciences PhD Studentship: Fungus-bacteria interactions during wood decomposition: unravelling community and functional effects (PhD Studentship)

Reference Number: R1009
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: 3 years
Funding Amount: UK/EU tuition fees plus stipend
Level of Study: Postgraduate Research
Regions: EU (Non UK), UK
This funding opportunity is now closed for application

Key Studentship Information

Project Title: Fungus-bacteria interactions during wood decomposition: unravelling community and functional effects

Project Description:

150 billion tonnes of wood are produced world-wide each year, and a similar amount is broken down and recycled, primarily by basidiomycete and some ascomycete fungi. Although bacteria are thought to have little direct effect on wood decay, they do interact with wood decay fungi and may make important contributions to the process in a range of different ways. Bacteria compete for the fungal-derived products of wood breakdown, and fungi have evolved mechanisms inhibitory to bacterial activity. A preliminary study, as part of a current NERC grant, indicates specific associations between the fungus colonizing wood and bacterial community diversity and abundance. The aim of this project is to investigate, experimentally in the laboratory and field, the effects of different wood decay fungal species and stage of wood decomposition on bacterial community structure, activities and interactions.

Samples for this investigation will be taken from fungal decay columns of naturally established beech wood. Wood discs, colonised individually by decay fungi, representing early, mid and late decay stage species, will be allowed to decay to different extents, placed in the field at different times of year, and collected after different times. Bacterial community diversity and abundance will be determined by cultivation-independent analysis of the decay-associated microbial communities (including PCR-DGGE and ARISA community profiling, QPCR and metagenomic analysis of phylogenetic and functional gene markers using next generation DNA/RNA sequencing). Analysis of marker genes will allow us to investigate the relationship between bacterial community diversity and state of wood decay, as well as determining the effects of fungal species and season on community structure, activity and function (e.g. by RT-PCR of 16S rRNAs and key oxygenase genes). Antagonistic mechanisms employed by the fungi on the bacteria, and vice versa, will be elucidated in the laboratory in agar culture, wood blocks and soil microcosms.

The student will benefit from working in an active multi-disciplinary and internationally-acclaimed research environment. Training will include use of modern molecular microbiological approaches, ecological experimental design, fungal and bacterial culture, quantification and activity assessment, empirical data collection and analysis, including bioinformatics, literature reviewing and meta-analysis. Transferable skills include, scientific writing, poster and oral presentations, and project management.

Supervisors: Prof Andy Weightman and Prof Lynne Boddy.

Application Deadline: 15 February 2013.


Academic criteria: Applications are invited from graduates who possess at least 2.1 Honours or Masters degree in microbiology, ecology, biology, or other relevant discipline. Experience of molecular methods and/or microbiological approaches would be advantageous, though training will be given and candidates with a different skill set will be considered.

Residency: To be eligible for fees and stipend of £13,590 p.a. for 2012/13(updated each year), applicants must be a UK national/ EU national who has been resident in the UK for three years prior to their application/ EU national who has migrant worker status. EU nationals who have not been resident in the UK for three years prior to application/ who do not have migrant worker status are eligible for fees only.

How to Apply

No separate application is necessary – consideration is automatic on applying for Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Biosciences (October 2013 start) through the normal university application portal.

Please indicate the project title (Fungus-bacteria interactions during wood decomposition: unravelling community and functional effects), the supervisor (Professor Weightman) and the research centre (Molecular Biosciences) on your application in your research proposal and the funding section.

Application Deadline: 15 February 2013

Further Information

Informal enquiries encouraged: please contact either Professor Andrew Weightman ( or Professor Lynne Boddy ( Further information can be found on our website.