Metabolic engineering of a methanotrophic bacterium for the production of high-value compounds

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Robert Speight
Professor (Microbial Biotechnology)
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Methane and methanol are ideal growth substrate for industrial fermentation processes because they are ubiquitous and cheap waste products. However, there are only limited genetic tools for the modification of methanotrophic bacteria, hindering their exploitation as industrial production strains.

Research activities

Our research group aims to use principles from Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering to create strains of the methanotroph Methylomicrobium alcaliphilum that are capable of producing high-value products (e.g. essential amino acids) from methane/methanol.

To that end, we are looking for a motivated student who would perform targeted genetic modifications in M. alcaliphilum to increase the currently low transformation efficiency of this organism. Alternatively, Cold Plasma could be employed to induce mutations in the genome of M. alcaliphilum while selecting for favourable phenotypes ('overproducers'). If you are interested in pursuing a PhD with us, the scope and expected outcomes of this project will be adjusted and expanded accordingly.


The expected outcomes of this project are:

  • novel strains of M. alcaliphilum
  • a peer-reviewed publication in a high-quality journal

Skills and experience

Candidates for this project should be genuinely interested in Synthetic Biology/Molecular Biology/Microbiology/Metabolic Engineering/Genetics and preferably will have experience in one ore more of these categories.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.