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(BBSRC DTP) Improving phosphorus use management in UK grasslands through soil-plant interactions

Project Description

This ambitious project will lead to a major shift in how soil phosphorus (P), is managed in UK grasslands. We lack critical knowledge of how grassland plants may use native forms of soil P, such as simple and complex organic forms, in addition to inorganic forms of P provided through mineralisation processes and by fertiliser additions. Our multidisciplinary proposal will focus on understanding interactions between soil chemistry (such as minerals, salinity and pH), soil type, and symbiotic fungi to generate models to improve P use management. Grasslands (including those used for forage crop production) are a vital component of the UK agricultural landscape because they cover large areas of the land surface and are key to sustaining the UK livestock industry. Moreover, they are vital reservoirs of biodiversity and provide numerous other ecosystem services. The project brings together complementary expertise in crop science, soil chemistry, biogeochemical cycling, mycorrhizal ecology, advanced analytical chemistry, and advanced computational soil-plant interaction. The student will use experimental mesocosm systems to provide empirical data to develop and validate models of P use under contrasting environmental conditions. The objectives of this research are to 1) enhance the state-of-the-art understanding of the mechanisms by which grassland plants obtain P from both organic and inorganic forms in soil and the reciprocal exchange of nutrients between symbiotic fungi and plants, and 2) develop a coupled model that can capture the physical, chemical, biological processes in soil-crop-mycorrhizal fungal system to establish the dynamics of P and carbon flows and estimate the size of P pools in the system.

The project will benefit from the infrastructure at The University of Manchester, which has invested to create a leading centre for plant and soil science research. The research staff will be working alongside colleagues in closely related areas including soil biogeochemistry, soil ecology and plant physiological ecology. The research staff will have access to dedicated state-of-the-art laboratories and will be part of the active research groups of the investigators and Project Partners. Specifically, UoM has access to cutting-edge instrumentation for tracing and quantifying radioisotopes, visualisation of fungal colonisation of roots, nutrient analysis and molecular analysis of mycorrhizal fungal communities.

Entry Requirements:
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website View Website

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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