Optimisation of protease feed additives for poultry to increase protein utilisation efficiency from locally produced sources

Lead Supervisor: Emily Burton

An exciting opportunity has arisen through a 4 year, fully funded poultry nutrition PhD studentship FUNDED AS A University of Nottingham-Nottingham Trent University  BBSRC DTP CASE studentship supported by industry partner KEMIN.  The poultry nutrition team at NTU is a well-established, vibrant research group with superb facilities and immense technical and academic expertise in poultry nutrition and health and has a strong existing relationship with the Nutritional Biochemistry Department at the UoN School of Biosciences who are joint supervisors  in the PhD project  We have been commended by Research Councils UK for the pipeline of high calibre scientists emerging from our group.  

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is renowned for leading edge research, strong links with industry and excellent teaching that shapes lives and society. NTU is one of the most sustainable universities in the world — ranked 3rd in the UK by the People and Planet University League, and 5th globally in the UI Green Metric. 

Worldwide, 35 percent more demand for animal protein in the next 20 years is predicted. Poultry meat represents around 36% of global meat production and has the smallest carbon footprint of any meat. As we seek to minimise global resource use and environment impact in animal production, the margin between under- and oversupply of each dietary nutrient in poultry feed becomes ever smaller. Precision in nutrient supply is essential to ensure the health of the 900 million meat birds reared annually in the UK alone. Where previously, research investigations tend to consider improving nutrient utilisation in terms of altered bird growth, this project will examine how dietary interventions can reduce the overall carbon cost associated with producing poultry meat. 

This project aims to examine how alterations in feed preparation impact on digestion efficiency in poultry and subsequent conversion into usable product. The project will draw on the candidate protease enzymes under development  by Kemin  explore how digestive physiology within meat-type poultry can be manipulated to enhance efficiency of nutrient utilisation. The PhD project will begin by using an in vitro model to  assess the activity of candidate proteases against a range of UK protein crops. Subsequent trials will assess the efficacy of protease enzymes on digestive  efficiency  in growing meat chickens via feeding trials and finally may explore their application to emerging animal feed materials such as algae and single cell proteins grown via fermentation processes. 

The PhD programme will allow the applicant to experience a wide range of established and emerging techniques that underpin research in animal production and develop their practical skills in a supportive environment.  The work will provide much scope for independence, publication and attendance at scientific conferences and would be expected to lead to high impact outputs.  

Specific qualifications/subject areas required of the applicants for this project: you must hold an MSc or BSc Hons (2:1 or above) in a relevant bioscience discipline. Applicants are required to submit a completed application form and a research proposal document of not more than 1000 words including references that academically contextualises this research field and explains how current and emerging techniques may be used to address the objectives outlined above.  

Applicants should outline in the application form how their skills and attributes will help them to achieve the objectives outlined in the research proposal document. The ability to drive in the UK would be advantageous in this studentship to maximise opportunities for engagement with the industrial sponsor.

Check your eligibility and apply here

 Funding details:

  • This opportunity is open to both Home and International students. Funding is available for four years from October 2024.
  • The award covers tuition fees at the home rate (currently £4712) plus an annual stipend (currently £18,622 for 2023/2024). This is set by the Research Councils. 

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Doctoral Training Programme

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Tel: +44 (0) 115 8466946
Email: bbdtp@nottingham.ac.uk