Understanding the rules of life

Bioscience for an integrated understanding of health

Category: Standard Studentships

The gut microbiome-brain axis: An important player in behaviour and brain function

Project No.2216

Primary Supervisor

Dr Marina Ezcurra – University of Kent


Prof Amritpal Mudher – University of Southampton



A new understanding of brain function:

The scientific community is starting to appreciate how microorganisms influence the brain through their ability to produce and modify many metabolic, immunological and neurochemical factors in the gut that ultimately impact the nervous system. Historically, behaviour and neurological disorders have been viewed

as mainly driven by processes in the brain; but we are now starting to understand that the function of the nervous system is affected by the metabolic and immune state of the body. Novel approaches to study the gut microbiome-brain axis: The development of high-throughput sequencing technologies has enabled a flood of metagenomic studies showing correlation between microbial communities and brain function disorders, and there is now a need to develop new tools enabling the study of the gut microbiome-brain axis in a laboratory setting to establish causative links and mechanisms by which microorganisms can alter the host nervous system. The Ezcurra and Mudher labs use complementary approaches to study interactions between the microbiome, immunity and brain function including powerful model organisms (the nematode C. elegans and fruit fly Drosophila) and human tissue. In this project, the student will be part of two dynamic labs working towards an understanding of the gut microbiome-brain axis using a range of interdisciplinary approaches and model systems, including modern neuroscience techniques, high-throughput sequencing, microscopy and high-resolution imaging technologies. Areas of potential impact: The studentship will provide much needed insight into the mechanisms underlying how communication between microorganisms and the brain impact on health and function of the nervous system. Our long-term goal is to develop microbiome-based strategies for human health. Research areas: Neuroscience, microbiome research, microbiome-based strategies for health, immunology, metabolism, innovation and technology development https://marinaezcurralab.com/ http://mudherlab.taubase.org/