The University of Bath is inviting applications for this PhD opportunity based at the Milner Centre for Evolution, a unique, cross-faculty research centre bridging biology, health and education. The Centre is dedicated to a broad range of fundamental research questions relating to evolutionary biology; from in deep time to the micro-evolutionary dynamics of a disease outbreak. We have a strong focus on public engagement and outreach. We are located in a dedicated multi-million-pound building that opened on the University campus in September 2018.
Monday 2 October 2023
Intended Supervisory Team:
Lead Supervisor: Dr Volkan Cevik (Milner Centre for Evolution, Department of Life Sciences, University of Bath)
Co-Supervisors: Dr Lauren Cowley (University of Bath), Dr Daniel Henk (University of Bath) and Dr Ozer Calis (University of Akdeniz, Antalya, Turkey)
Overview of the Research:
Plant pathogens pose major threat to global food security. Crop plants are constantly exposed to a range of devastating pathogens including viruses that can cause up to 100% yield losses. Short generation time and fast evolutionary rates of plant viruses together with changing climate can lead to the emergence of new variants and global outbreaks that can threaten food security globally.
Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is one of the most important plant viruses that can infect more than thousand plant species including crop plants such as pepper (Capsicum annuum), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and potato (Solanum tuberosum). TSWV has been reported in many countries on all continents. Successful eradication or effective control of the virus has been very difficult. Introgression of resistance genes into the crop plants such as pepper and tomato from their wild relatives provided the most effective control strategy against the virus. However, fast evolutionary rate of the virus made those resistance genes ineffective in a very short period. It is therefore crucial to elucidate the factors contributing to rapid evolution of the virus. This, in turn will enable us to develop novel methodologies to control the virus.
In this project, we will sample large number of virus isolates from the Mediterranean part of Turkey and identify the diversity of the virus in crop plants, wild plant species and the its thrips vectors. As resistant crops are the most effective way to control the virus, we will mine the wild Solanaceae germplasm to identify novel resistance genes against the virus. Furthermore, we will carry out protein-protein interaction studies to identify host plant proteins required for the successful replication and transmission of the virus. Genes (so called susceptibility genes) encoding such host proteins will then be edited using CRISPR/Cas9 and utilized to develop crop plants with durable resistance against the virus.
Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent) in a relevant discipline. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.
Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.
Enquiries and Applications:
Candidates are encouraged to discuss the project directly with Dr Volkan Cevik before applying (email address: [Email Address Removed]).
Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Biology.
On the application form, quote ‘Evolution Education Trust’ in the Finance section and the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. If applying for more than one project, quote the projects in order of preference and upload a separate personal statement relevant to each one.
Your application must be complete when you submit it to us. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. Please ensure you have completed all fields on the application form and supplied the contact details of TWO referees willing to provide us with a reference when requested (one must be from your most recent place of study). Also, you should ensure that you have uploaded all the required documents. See our website for more information.
To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements: UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), those with Indefinite Leave to Remain and EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme). This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.
Exceptional Overseas students (e.g. with a UK Master’s Distinction or international equivalent and relevant research experience), who are interested in this project, should contact the lead supervisor in the first instance to discuss the possibility of applying for supplementary funding.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:
We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from diverse backgrounds and under-represented groups.
If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.