Enhancing plant productivity using engineered microbes
Dr T Howard
Prof M Knight
Dr Maria del Carmen Montero Calasanz
Dr J Stach
No more applications being accepted
Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
The productivity and resilience of agricultural systems faces multiple challenges including from climate change, increasing demand and the need for more sustainable sources of fertilisers. In this project, you will investigate the role that engineered bacterial endophytes - microbes that live harmlessly within plant tissues - might play in mitigating these threats. Currently, plant productivity in natural and agricultural systems is greatly enhanced through plant/microbe interactions. Examples include the nitrogen-fixing bacteria associated with legumes, root-associated mycorrhizal fungi and endophytes that synthesise anti-herbivory chemicals within their host’s leaves. To date, however, our agricultural systems benefit from evolved symbiosis, rather than designed (or engineered) symbiosis.
In this project you will develop a bacterial species suitable for use as a synthetic biology model organism. You will use the latest in sequencing technologies, bioinformatics and functional genomics to examine the genetic make-up of a bacterial endophyte available in our laboratory. You will use statistical optimisation combined with laboratory automation to design, build, test and optimise protocols and genetic resources required for robust engineering of this species. You will use these tools and information to study the response of the host plant to endophyte colonisation within the laboratory. From this you will gain skills in the quantification of transcriptional and secondary messenger signalling. Together, these skills will allow you to lay the groundwork for the development of novel tools for plant science.
This PhD is appropriate for a student with interests in both microbiology and plant sciences who wishes to study plant/microbial interactions at the cellular and molecular level.
HOW TO APPLY
Applications should be made by emailing [Email Address Removed] with a CV (including contact details of at least two academic (or other relevant) referees), and a covering letter – clearly stating your first choice project, and optionally 2nd and 3rd ranked projects, as well as including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project(s) and at the selected University. Applications not meeting these criteria will be rejected.
In addition to the CV and covering letter, please email a completed copy of the Additional Details Form (Word document) to [Email Address Removed]. A blank copy of this form can be found at: https://www.nld-dtp.org.uk/how-apply.
Informal enquiries may be made to [Email Address Removed]
This is a 4 year BBSRC studentship under the Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham DTP. The successful applicant will receive research costs, tuition fees and stipend (£15,009 for 2019-20). The PhD will start in October 2020. Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, a 2.1 Hons degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. EU candidates must have been resident in the UK for 3 years in order to receive full support. Please note, there are 2 stages to the application process.
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