Phytophthora agathidicida is currently threatening New Zealand’s most iconic tree, the kauri. Current efforts to halt its spread through New Zealand forests are failing. Phytophtora zoospores swim through waterlogged soil towards the roots of their host plants and then encyst on the root surface and initiate infection. The molecular mechanisms controlling movement and infection appear to involve G protein coupled receptors and phospholipid kinases. This is exciting, as powerful methods are available for studying these proteins; indeed G protein coupled receptors and kinase together are the target of approximately 60% of all current human medicines. Here our multidisciplinary, international team propose a novel way to tackle the problem; by adapting methods refined in human drug discovery to understand the fundamental function of these proteins.
This knowledge will enable us to develop novel chemical tools that could help in the fight against this devastating pest. This will be an excellent opportunity for a student to develop skills that will be highly marketable within industry and academia. The project is a collaboration between University of Otago, Auckland and Victoria University and some travel between sites will be required.
Competitive scholarship funding is available; applicants will need a suitable qualifying degree in a related subject area with a strong GPA/E to be considered.
Enquiries are invited from prospective PhD candidates. A background in molecular pharmacology is essential. Experience studying GPCRs and/or yeast screening assays is strongly preferred. Experience with cloning and expression of genes in expression plasmids would also be advantageous.
Please send your CV along with a brief description of why you feel you are suited to this project. Contact: [email protected]