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A multifunctional biomimetic lab-on-a-chip assault course for agrochemical bioavailability screening

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

A current challenge with the delivery of agrochemicals is understanding optimal uptake and distribution throughout the plant. This is compounded by the lack of a comprehensive physicochemical based set of rules to effectively predict agrochemical bioavailability. This proposal aims to address this challenge by designing and establishing a modular on-chip plant that can mimic the various compartments and layers an agrochemical needs to traverse to gain access to its active-site within the plant. This will be done using automated droplet-based microfluidics that will enable the user to “dial up” in-vitro biologically relevant mimics of plant compartments and barriers. The resulting biomimicry toolkit will capture the key features of the molecular environments at each phase of the bioavailability pathway. The fully integrated system will have added functionalities of dynamic and real-time molecule tracking across key stages of the assault course with read out facilitated by fibre-optic based UV Vis, Raman Imaging, Mass Spec and HPLC. The device will enable us to screen a library of Syngenta’s existing agrochemicals with defined physicochemical properties and to identify those molecules that can successfully cross key barriers in plants. Knowledge gained will facilitate the design of more effective agrochemicals that can cross plant structures, allowing site-targeted distribution of agrochemicals, leading to a more sustainable, economical and environmentally green approach to agrochemical use in agriculture. This is a highly multi-disciplinary PhD suited to candidates from a Physical Science background (including Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Engineering).

Supervisory Team

Prof Oscar Ces (
Dr Laura Barter ( )
Dr Yuval Elani ( )
Dr Nazila Kamaly ( )
Dr Steve Smith (Syngenta)

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