Biocoatings: Painting bacteria onto surfaces for sustainable processes

This interdisciplinary project will enable the development of novel biocoatings or materials that will enable metabolic activity of bacteria over extended periods of time.

Start date

1 April 2019


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Leverhulme Trust

Funding information

A fully funded studentship including an annual stipend of £14,777.

This research project has funding attached. Funding for this project is available to citizens of UK/EU.


A biocoating is defined as a porous polymer film that adheres to micro-organisms and holds them on a surface within a bioreactor, sensor or biocatalyst. This PhD project will centre on the microbiology side, genetically modifying and monitoring bacteria for use in biocoatings. The aim is to achieve a greater rate of generation of biomass than is currently possible with existing approaches. The concept of using bacteria to generate sources of renewable energy has already been demonstrated at the laboratory scale. Recently-developed bioreactor technologies rely on holding non-growing, metabolically active (NGMA) bacteria “captive” within synthetic biocoatings and this proposal will expand upon this technology.

This project will entail the development of bacterial biocoatings by genetically engineering bacterial strains, then testing them in conjunction with Professor Keddie’s revolutionary bacteriophilic coatings to create living biocoatings. Various bacterial strains will be genetically engineered to adjust metabolic rates and/or protein production and then monitored using fluorescence. The polymers in the coatings are transparent in the visible range, which will allow evaluation of the constitutive or gene-specific metabolic activity of bacterial cells in the biocoatings through expression of fluorescence in live cell imaging. The range of applications for biocoatings is extensive and this project will explore a variety of exciting potential avenues for their use, including food packaging, environmental remediation and “living paints”.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for this studentship, you must have a 2:1 honours degree or a masters degree with distinction.

Non-native speakers of English will be required to have IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent).

How to apply

You can apply for this by applying to study the Biosciences and Medicine PhD and mentioning this studentship in your application.

Biosciences and Medicine PhD

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Application deadline

Contact details

Suzie Hingley-Wilson
4 AX 01
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 684390


Bacteriology Section in Department of Microbiology (Dr Hingley-Wilson)

The Soft Matter Physics Group has extensive facilities for the physical and microstructural characterisation of polymers and colloids. The Microbiology laboratory routinely use single cell imaging and microbial modification techniques.

Soft Matter Physics Group (Prof. Keddie)

The Microbiology laboratory routinely use single cell imaging and microbial modification techniques.


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