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Microbial dimethyl sulfide degradation in anoxic sediments

Project Description

Dimethylsulfide (DMS) is the most abundant biologically produced organic sulfur compound emitted to the atmosphere. Its oxidation products affect atmospheric chemistry and cloud formation, hence it is considered as the "climate cooling gas". DMS flux is mainly controlled by its microbial degradation in the environment. In anoxic sediments, DMS is degraded by methanogenic microorganisms and sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), which leads to methane, carbondioxide or hydrogen sulfide production depending on the sulfate availability. Since methane is a significant greenhouse gas, the metabolic route of DMS degradation has major consequences for the global climate. However, we know little about the diversity and metabolism of microbial communities degrading DMS in anoxic sediments. The aim of this PhD research is to reveal the diversity, metabolism and interaction between microbial communities degrading DMS in anoxic freshwater and estuarine sediments. Sediment samples will be collected from selected sites in England and microcosms will be set up using DMS as the carbon and energy source. Identification of microbial communities will be carried out using high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics tools. The taxonomy and metabolism of methanogenic and SRB populations that actively degrade DMS will also be elucidated using state-of-the-art techniques such as stable-isotope probing in combination with metagenomics and metatranscriptomics.

The student will acquire the set of skills to carry out the project in addition to the transferable skills. The student will be offered a dynamic research environment embedded within a multidisciplinary facility.


The studentship is open to UK and EU nationals. It will cover tuition fees and provide an annual tax-free maintenance allowance for 3 years at Research Councils UK rates (£16,553 in 2017/18).

Eligibility and Applying

Applicants must have an excellent academic track record, with a bachelor’s degree (1st or high 2.1) in a relevant field.(i.e. Biological Sciences, Environmental Microbiology, Bioengineering). An MSc degree in the subject area and experience in microbial ecology techniques are desirable. Students outside the UK are required to provide evidence of their proficiency in English language skills. 

Informal enquiries about the project can be made by email to Dr Ozge Eyice ( For formal applications, please submit an online application before the stated deadline.

Apply Online


  • Eyice et al. 2015. SIP-metagenomics identify Methylophilaceae as dimethylsulfide degrading bacteria in soil and lake sediment. The ISME J 9:2336-2348.
  • Schäfer et al. 2010. Microbial degradation of dimethylsulfide and related C1-sulfur compounds: organisms and pathways controlling fluxes of sulfur in the biosphere. Journal of Experimental Botany. 61: 315-334.
  • Lomans et al. 1997. Microbial populations involved in cycling of dimethylsulfide and methanethiol in freshwater sediments. Applied and Environmental Microbiology.63:4741-4747.
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