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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Nathan Wright

PhD Student



Project Title: 

Cyanobacterial Biofilms for Photoelectrochemistry


This project will address one of the key practical considerations in the development of such systems: how to assemble stable biofilms of cyanobacterial cells for bioelectrochemistry. Many cyanobacteria can adhere to surfaces using a combination of fibrous protein appendages called Type IV pili (T4P) and a sticky matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS, which is mainly polysaccharide slime).

We will use two model cyanobacteria: the unicellular Synechocystis sp PCC6803 and the filamentous, nitrogen-fixing Anabaena (Nostoc) sp PCC7120. By genetic manipulation of both the T4P and EPS production we will tailor cells for biofilm formation on different surfaces in order to enable bioelectrochemical applications. The supports for the biofilms will be prepared by using electrospinning, a versatile technique that enables a fine control of the surface and structural characteristics by adjusting the processing parameters. This will give the student a wide variety of scenarios to explore what conditions and properties of the substrate are the optimal for the deposition and growth of the biofilm.



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