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Beneficial mites for bumblebee colonies

School of Biological Sciences

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Dr M A Perotti No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is a 4-year BBSRC - Industry funded PhD studentship at Reading University.

Bumblebees are among the most important pollinators of agricultural lands and are particularly important for enclosed crops (greenhouses) in temperate latitudes. Bee declines are widely thought to be the result of habitat loss, fragmentation, degradation, exacerbated by pesticides and the recent introduction of exotic parasites and pathogens. New diseases are spread by the global trade of commercial bumblebee colonies, which are reared in factories and transported across international borders whilst they are known to be frequently infected with multiple pathogens.

Wild pollinators interact with many arthropods, especially with mites. Some mite species are clearly detrimental, such as those that dwell within the tracheae of the insect. However, not all mites found in association with bumblebees seem to be detrimental. Very little is known of the role these mites play in the life cycle of bumblebees.

This study is a collaboration between experts in mites (Dr. Alejandra Perotti, Reading) and in bumblebees (Prof. David Goulson, Sussex University) with a crop-protection company (BCP-CERTIS). We would like to unravel the nature of the association of bumblebee species with free-living mites. We will examine the effects on their host, which may be positive (e.g. rendering bee colonies more resilient to pathogens and environmental challenges) or negative (e.g. cause disease by being parasites, vectors or reservoirs of microbial pathogens).

Identification of mites, studies on life-cycles, isolation of parasitic mites and pathogens, and analysis of their occurrence will take place in Reading. Sampling of mites and mite-bumblebee interaction studies will be performed in Sussex while treatment of parasite/pathogen infested bumblebees with mites will take place at BCP-CERTIS. [The student must spend a minimum of 3 months working at the industrial partner facilities].

Eligibility: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a relevant subject. Please note that due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is for UK/EU applicants only. EU residents must comply with UK ‘ordinary resident’ requirement.

Further details of the project or research can be obtained from the supervisor Dr M. Alejandra Perotti, at [Email Address Removed]

How to Apply: please e-mail a CV, degree transcripts, names and e-mail addresses of two academic Referees and a Personal Statement to: Mrs Sarah Swan, Research Office Manager, School of Biological Sciences, the University of Reading, at [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover Home/EU Fees and pay the Research Council minimum stipend for 4 years, starting from October 2015.
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