Understanding the molecular mechanisms of microbial adaptation to growth on biorefinery feedstocks

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Kevin Dudley
Research Officer (Genomics)
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Mark Harrison
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Biorefineries are centralised industrial facilities that transform waste and by-products from the crop and animal production sectors into products such as food, energy, and materials. As such, they are central 'pillars' of the circular bioeconomy.

Some biorefinery feedstocks are challenging to transform using microorganisms because they contain 'unusual' carbohydrates or a complex mixture of inhibitory compounds.

Research activities

As part of the project you will:

  • identify a range of bacteria with potential to use biorefinery feedstocks to produce value-added products
  • compare the transcriptome of selected strains during adaptation to growth on biorefinery feedstocks
  • identify both common and species-specific adaptation mechanisms.


The aim of the project is to understand the metabolic changes that bacteria make to better use atypical fermentable carbon in their environment and/or overcome the effects of inhibitors.

Skills and experience

If you have experience in one or more of the following scientific fields and strong practical skills it will be well regarded:

  • industrial biotechnology
  • molecular microbiology
  • transcriptomics.


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

Annual scholarship round



Contact Dr Mark Harrison for more information.