PhD Project 2Mixed bacterial cultures for the conversion of plastic waste into bioplastic

Supervisors

Prof Kevin O Connor - School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science – BEACON SFI bioeconomy research centre, University College Dublin, Ireland

Dr Tanja Narancic - School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science – BEACON SFI bioeconomy research centre, University College Dublin, Ireland

The majority of produced plastics are single-use, which in combination with take-make-dispose culture lead to the environmental pollution.  Using plastic waste as a feedstock for bacterial growth and value-added products synthesis provides a potentially new route for the recycling of plastics.  However, plastic waste represents a complex mixture of different materials.

We have demonstrated the use of defined mixed bacterial cultures for the conversion of mixed aromatic compounds to a biodegradable polymer polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA).  PHA is an intracellular polymer acting as a storage material that is accumulated under inorganic nutrient limitation.  These polymers have biotechnological potential as plastics, coatings, adhesives, foams and more.  The improvement of the natural ability to produce PHA is a major challenge to achieving commercially relevant production levels.

The present study will investigate the possibility to upcycle mixed plastics into biodegradable plastic PHA.  A microbial consortium will be developed and fermentor based bioprocessing strategy will be designed to optimise the substrate consumption and PHA production.

The investigation is part of an EU Horizon 2020 funded project with a broad international team that includes academic and industry members.  The successful candidate will be enrolled in a 4-year structured PhD programme in School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science.

Requirements: Candidates for this position should have a MSc degree or BSc degree (minimum 2:1 honours or equivalent) in Microbiology.  It is desirable that candidates have fermentation experience.

The studentship will begin September or October 2019.  The studentship will cover tuition fees and an annual stipend.

Apply: Interested candidates should contact both Prof. Kevin O' Connor and Tanja Narancic (e-mail: kevin.oconnor@ucd.ie, Tanja.narancic@ucd.ie) with a cover letter and CV, including the names of two academic references.  Closing date August 1 2019.