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Two Fully Funded PhD studentships are available at Royal Holloway, University of London

1) Characterisation of high zeaxanthin/lutein Bell pepper (Capsicum) varieties. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a chronic eye disorder, affecting 30% of the population by the age of 65 years. Its onset can be delayed by dietary intervention with two specific carotenoid pigments, lutein and zeaxanthin. Diverse Capsicum annuum fruits with orange/yellow phenotypes are often rich in zeaxanthin and offer great potential as either a new direct dietary source or as a derived supplement rich in zeaxanthin. In order to provide the resources and tools necessary to generate Capsicum varieties with enhanced zeaxanthin/lutein fruit contents, the proposed project will; (i) exploit the vast natural variation that exists in germplasm collections for Capsicum, (ii) elucidate the underlying biochemical and molecular mechanisms leading to zeaxanthin accumulation in these genotypes, (iii) test bioaccessibility properties and (iv) identify candidate alleles as potential molecular markers for nutritional enhancement of the zeaxanthin content in Capsicum fruit. This project is available as a three year PhD studentship funded by RHUL and a leading horticultural company.

2) Characterisation of bioactive apo-carotenoid formation during co-cultivation with probiotic microbial communities. Several gram positive probiotic species have the ability to produce bioactive apocarotenoids (Perez-Fons et al., 2011. BBA, 1811, 177-185). The proposed PhD programme will; (i) further characterise the potential biological activity of the apocarotenoid compounds, (ii) ascertain the direct and indirect effects of apocarotenoids on probiotic bacteria and (iii) assess the effect of different microbial communities on apocarotenoid formation in certain emerging probiotic strains. The project will utilise state of the art metabolomics and is an ideal platform for a biochemist to develop their skillset. This project is available as a four year PhD studentship funded by RHUL and a leading bioscience company specialising in the gut microbiome.

Potential candidates should hold or be obtaining a minimum of a 2.i BSc Hons degree in Biochemistry/Biological sciences or MSc. Work towards these PhDs will be carried out under the supervision of Prof Paul Fraser, Dr Genny Enfissi and Dr Laura Perez-Fons. Their laboratory is well funded and well equipped with dedicated, state-of-the-art metabolomic platforms available (https://pure.royalholloway.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/paul-fraser; www.disco-fp7.eu). Stipends will be provided at standard RIUK rates and all fees covered.  For informal enquires please contact Prof. Fraser on 01784 443555 or 01784 443894; or p.fraser@rhul.ac.uk. To apply please send your up-to-date CV and the contact details of two referees.  The deadline will be 21st of June 12.00pm – but the positions will be filled prior to the deadline if suitable candidates become available.

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