Production of volatile nitrogen by marine algae: global implications of a changing nutrient balance


Project description

Microalgae are major components of marine ecosystems, providing essential roles including using carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Our research shows that they also produce nitrogen-containing compounds (N-osmolytes) used for alleviating salinity stress and maintaining photosynthesis. These compounds degrade in seawater to produce methylamines, which can move into the atmosphere and take part in chemical reactions, influencing cloud formation and climate.

This project is an exciting opportunity to advance understanding of the cycling of N-osmolytes and methylamines by algae today and in the future. Climate-change scenarios predict conditions leading to variable riverine inputs to coastal areas and changes to the balance of nutrient pools. Your challenge is to investigate how these changes might affect production of N-osmolytes and methylamines, with potentially important consequences for the climate.

Based at the University of Plymouth with periods of working at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and University of East Anglia, this studentship will include algal-culturing and field sampling in coastal and oceanic waters. We are a strong multidisciplinary team with excellent track records for research on algae and measurement of the compounds to be studied.

You will develop advanced laboratory and field research skills plus transferable skills to support your future career. The analytical techniques and approach are cutting-edge providing an excellent portfolio of skills to launch your career in science and industry.


Applicants should have a minimum of a first class or upper second class bachelor degree in the Biological, Chemical or Environmental Sciences. Applications from candidates with a relevant masters qualification will be welcomed. This project would suit a self-motivated student, with strong experimental skills and practical ingenuity. Relevant analytical skills and an appreciation of algae would be ideal.


The studentship will have a three year duration and will cover full-time home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of approximately £14,777 per annum. The position is open to UK and EU citizens with appropriate qualifications who have been resident in the UK for three years. EU citizens who have not been resident in the UK for three years may qualify for a fees only scholarship. International candidates required to pay overseas fees must be able to cover the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (approximately £10,800 per annum).

General information about applying for a research degree at the University of Plymouth is available at:

You can apply via the online application form which can be found at: and click ‘Apply’.

Please mark it FAO Mrs Nikki King and clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

For more information on the admissions process, contact Nikki King.

Closing date for applications: 12 noon, 28 January 2019.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview week beginning 18 February 2019. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by 1 March 2019 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.