The successful applicant will work on ‘The Molecular Basis of Diatom Adhesion and Motility’. Diatoms are a large group of unicellular eukaryotic algae that possess intricately nanopatterned silica cell walls. They are responsible for about 20% of global biological carbon fixation, form a substantial basis of the marine food web, and are major contributors to climate change processes. Benthic, pennate diatoms are well known for their adhesion strength to natural and man-made surfaces forming dense brown biofilms on submerged surfaces (biofouling). The annual cost of ship biofouling exceeds $150 billion, and thus understanding the molecular mechanism of diatom adhesion will inform the development of novel ship hull designs with anti-biofouling properties. At the same time, insight into the structure-function relationship in diatom adhesives will pave the way for designing biomimetic water compatible glues for technological and medical applications. Many adhesive diatoms have the ability for rapid gliding on underwater surfaces that is fueled by an as yet uncharacterized intracellular actin-myosin complex. Diatom motility is unrivalled among actin-based motility systems as it is extremely fast (25 µm/s) and bi-directional. Investigating the molecular basis of this process will therefore lay the groundwork for discovering new chemo-mechanical principles in actin-myosin dependent cell motility. The main aims of the research projects are identification and functional characterization of proteins of the machinery that generates the force for diatom motility. The project will utilize a variety of techniques including biochemical, molecular genetic, and molecular cell biological approaches.
- university degree (MSc), and – if applicable – PhD degree, in biochemistry, biological chemistry, molecular biotechnology, or related fields
- strong research experience in protein biochemistry
- excellent communication skills in English as this is the language at the research centre
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