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Understanding the dynamics of the plant protein Light Harvesting Complex II using molecular dynamics simulations and fluorescence experiments


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Friday 1 October 2021
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Dr Peter Adams and Dr Antreas Kalli
School of Physics and Astronomy
Research groups/institutes
Molecular and Nanoscale Physics
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

The plant protein Light-Harvesting Complex II (LHCII) allows efficient absorption of solar energy and is essential for photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, LHCII proteins undergo dynamic structural changes which alter its capacity for light harvesting and changes its interactions with other proteins. Despite some recent progress, our understanding of how LHCII functions at the molecular level is often based on a static picture. Understanding the function of LHCII is critical for fully explaining the bioscience of photosynthesis and could be exploited in the design of novel solar nanotechnologies. In this project the student will use an interdisciplinary approach that combines Molecular Dynamics simulations and modelling with fluorescence spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy to: (1) determine the effect of LHCII-LHCII interactions on its conformational switching, (2) study how LHCII interacts with other proteins cofactors proposed to modulate its action, and (3) quantify the effect of lipid composition on the protein stability and protein-protein interactions. This project will provide novel insights into the different conformations which are known to modulate the state of LHCII underlying its critical function of capturing solar energy. This position would suit a student interested in interdisciplinary science with a biochemistry, chemistry or physics background, or a combination of these.

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &ldquo;Understanding the dynamics of the plant protein Light Harvesting Complex II using molecular dynamics simulations and fluorescence experiments&rdquo; as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Dr Peter Adams</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Dr Antreas Kalli</a> as your proposed supervisors.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p><strong>UK&nbsp;students</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The <a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarship (January deadline)</a> and the <a href="">Henry Ellison Scholarship</a> are available to UK applicants.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>International students</strong>&nbsp;&ndash; The <a href="">School of Physics &amp; Astronomy Fee Only Scholarship</a> is available to support the additional academic fees of international applicants. The <a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a> is available to nationals of China. The <a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a> is available to support US citizens.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Self-funded students</strong> are also very welcome to apply.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information on the project do not hesitate to contact any of the project supervisors by email (Peter Adams&nbsp;<a href=""></a>&nbsp;and Antreas Kalli <a href=""></a>). We are always happy to discuss scientific questions with pro-active candidates. For details on how to apply and admin arrangements, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email:&nbsp;<a href="">m</a><a href=""></a>, or by telephone: +44 (0)113 343 5057.</p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>