Self-funded PhD opportunities

The influence of environmental cues on the epigenome of the marine wood borer limnoria quadripunctata.

  • Application end date: All year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: School of Biological Sciences
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Tim Hebbes, Prof Simon Cragg

Project reference: BIOL3790817

The epigenome provides a series of codes, over and above the genome sequence, that regulate gene expression. Increasingly we have become aware that environmental factors such as diet, stress and exposure to toxicants all influence the epigenome and gene regulation. The wood-boring organism Limnoria has a number of different cellulase enzymes, the expression of which are altered by diet. Our initial data suggests that epigenetic marks such as acetylation of histone H4 dynamically respond to starvation and feeding of these animals, therefore providing a tractable experimental system that can be manipulated by altering environmental conditions. The aim of the project is to understand the regulation of the digestive enzyme glycosyl hydrolase (GH7) gene, by analysing the epigenetic status of its chromatin from animals fed on different woods.  The project will use a number of marine and molecular biology techniques including western blot, immunohistochemistry and cloning. The project will further our understanding of how particular environmental cues change the epigenetic status and influence gene regulation. The application of epigenetic approaches to a marine organism is novel and offers opportunities for pioneering work.

Candidate Specification:

We are seeking candidates who have gained their undergraduate degree or are close to the completion of a Master’s degree in biology related disciplines, expertise in molecular biology is desirable. It is important that candidates have the personal skills to work independently as part of a multidisciplinary team

Supervisor profiles:

Tim Hebbes

Simon Cragg

Entry requirements:

Candidates must have a good honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. Please see the Key Facts section on the Biological Sciences research degree page for basic entry requirements.


Informal enquiries are welcome and can be made to Tim Hebbes on 02392 842054 (

Formal enquiries can be made to the faculty via the enquiry form on the subject specific pages:

How to apply:

To apply, please your CV, a one-page letter of application, two references, copies of any relevant qualifications and evidence of IELTS if required.

All applications should use our standard online application form and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpages:

Funding Notes:

Bench fees of £1500 p/a

More information on research in the School of Biological Sciences can be found here: 

When applying please note the project code - BIOL3790817