Daum Group

Interdisciplinary PhD position available: Investigating eukaryotic intracellular parasites using electron cryo-tomography

Microsporidia are small, eukaryotic parasites that occur as environmental spores and cause serious disease in farmed animals and immunocompromised humans. Microsporidian spores are unable to replicate or metabolize by themselves and are thus dormant as long as they are in the environment. Once they have entered an animal or human body, they “germinate” and rapidly eject a long extension called polar tube. This polar tube is hollow and apparently composed of a helical array of proteins. After penetrating the target cell’s membrane, the PT transports the infectious spore cytoplasm (sporoplasm) into it. Once inside the host cell, the microsporidia activate their metabolism, divide, make new spores and leave the cell to start a new round of infection. In this interdisciplinary research project (involving the groups of Drs. Daum, Williams and Wan), you will use biochemistry, electron cryo-tomography and AI-based molecular modeling to investigate the molecular architecture and dynamics of the polar tube at atomic resolution. This will provide new insights into how microsporidia infect target cells and enable the development of new drugs aiming to fight microsporidian infection

To find out more about the Daum Group check out our website: daumlab.exeter.ac.uk