Jobs in Structural Biology and Related Fields

PhD Position

Palmerston North, NEW ZEALAND posted from, United Kingdom
Application deadline: 31 Jan 2014

We are seeking two PhD candidates to undertake research projects within the overall program: “The writing is on the wall: elucidating the deep evolutionary links between cell wall synthesis in bacteria and methanogenic archaea”. 
Applicants are invited to apply (CV and letter of interest) for a three year PhD full scholarship that is funded by a prestigious Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden fund grant. The research will be undertaken at AgResearch and the Institute of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University (, both in Palmerston North (, New Zealand. 
These two projects will investigate the early evolution of cell walls in methanogenic archaea. Bacterial cell walls are predominantly comprised of murein (peptidoglycan) which contains a glycan backbone with beta (1-4) bonds composed of alternating N-acetylglucosamine (NAG) and muramic acid (NAM) residues, the latter of which is bonded to a pentapeptide. Interestingly, archaea are not known to possess murein, but instead they contain a diverse range of cell wall types composed of sulphated-heteropolysaccharides, methanochondroitin, glutaminylglycan, protein, glycoprotein surface layers or pseudomurein, the latter a structural analogue of murein. Pseudomurein possesses several interesting differences compared to murein including a unique archaeal sugar in the backbone and an unusual peptide cross-link with isopeptide bonds. These projects will investigate whether there are deep evolutionary connections between the biosynthesis of pseudomurein in methanogenic archaea and bacterial murein using thermophilic methanogens such as Methanothermobacter thermautorophicus delta H as a model. One PhD candidate would investigate the peptide links of pseudomurein while the other will investigate biosynthesis of the glycan backbone. 
The closing date for applications is January 31st, 2014 although candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applicants should have a demonstrated strong background in biochemistry and molecular biology and a keen interest in structural biology. Experience in enzymology and/or X-ray crystallography is an advantage. The student stipend is NZ$ 36,500 per year for three years, which includes payment of PhD tuition fees. 
The primary supervisors include Dr Ron Ronimus (AgResearch) & Dr Andrew Sutherland-Smith (Massey University). The Marsden project overall also includes collaboration with Professor William F. Martin, University of Dusseldorf, Germany. Interested persons can contact principle investigator Dr Ron Ronimus by email (, phone (+64-6-351-8036) or Fax (+64-6-351- 8003). Alternative contact, Dr Andrew Sutherland- Smith (