Engineering an ultra-fast-growing marine bacterium as novel chassis for Synthetic Biology

Biotechnological applications with the world’s fastest bacterium


The marine bacterium Vibrio natriegens is the fastest- growing non-pathogenic bacterium known to date and is gaining more and more attention as an alternative chassis organism to Escherichia coli. A recent wave of synthetic biology efforts has focused on the establishment of molecular biology tools in this fascinating organism, now enabling exciting applications – from speeding up our everyday laboratory routines to increasing the pace of biotechnological production cycles.

To harness the full potential of Vibrio natriegens, our laboratory has recently developed a Golden-gate-based cloning system for this organism, serving as an ideal starting point to engineer V. natriegens into a novel host for ultra-rapid cloning, as well as for biosynthetic pathway construction.

In this project the successful applicant will explore the metabolic and biosynthetic potential of this organism, by introducing heterologous pathways for the bioremediation of pollutants, such as microplastics, and the bioproduction of valuable fine chemicals, such as antimicrobial peptides and other antibiotics.


Project goals:

  • Develop the world’s fastest cloning system
  • Deepen our understanding of the metabolic capacity of Vibrio natriegens for bioproduction processes
  • Build heterologous metabolic pathways for the bioremediation of pollutants and/or bioproduction of valuable fine chemicals

As part of this project the successful PhD applicant will undertake:

  • Molecular cloning
  • High-throughput gene expression analyses
  • Biochemical characterization of products
  • Statistical data analysis
  • Collaboration with national and international experts
  • Presentation of scientific results
  • Writing of scientific publications

Suggested readings


Research team leader: Dr Georg Fritz

In 2019 I joined the School of Molecular Sciences at UWA as ‘Be Inspired’ Senior Lecturer and group leader for Synthetic Biology. In our research, we apply bottom-up and top-down approaches to better understand and manipulate bacterial cells. This ranges from the design of synthetic genetic circuits to optimize the production of novel antibiotics, to the reverse-engineering of natural gene regulatory networks causing antibiotic resistance in bacteria.



    • Volunteers interested in laboratory internships are encouraged to contact Dr Georg Fritz.



How to Apply 

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
  • Requirements specific to this project:
    • Demonstrated experience in bacterial genetics is essential.
    • Experience in metabolic engineering, bioinformatics and quantitative data analysis is desirable.
Submit enquiry to research team leader 
  • Contact the research team leader by submitting an Expression of Interest form via the button below
  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact [email protected] to proceed with your application


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.