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Genomic approaches to understanding molluscan crop pests

   School of Life Sciences

  Dr A Davison, Dr C M Wade  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Snails and slugs cause worldwide problems, both in terms of direct damage to crops, and as intermediate vectors for diseases of farm animals. Yet, they are difficult to identify and we have little idea of what influences their distributions, hindering appropriate control measures. Genomic techniques offer a potential solution in that they can be used to understand the relationship and taxonomy of different species, and, ultimately, the genes involved in enabling adaptation to human-affected environments. However, molluscs in general are relatively lacking in genomic resources, partly because they generally have large genomes, but also because there is no single model mollusc to drive research forward. In this project, the student will apply genomic methods to a pest snail or slug species, with a view to understanding the adaptations that enable it to be to invasive. With suitable resources in place, we hope to get a more general picture of invasive species and crop pests.

The student will receive training in a wide range of transferable skills, starting with the standard laboratory techniques of molecular biology (DNA extraction, PCR, electrophoresis. These techniques will then be used to generate whole genome sequences for the species of interest, using a combination of Illumina, PacBio and Nanopore methods. In analysing the data, the student will receive training in bioinformatics. Field work will also be a necessary part of the main PhD, to collect specimens.

The project would suit a student who is keen to graduate with skills in a variety of techniques, making them employable in a variety of fields.


Davison A, Neiman M (2021a) Mobilising molluscan models and genomes in biology. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 376: 20200163

Davison A, Neiman M (2021b) Pearls of wisdom – a special issue on molluscan genomics. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 376: 20200151

Saadi AJ, Davison A, Wade CM (2020) Molecular Phylogeny of the Freshwater Snails and Limpets (Panpulmonata: Hygrophila). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 190: 518–531

Saenko SV, Groenenberg DSJ, Davison A, Schilthuizen M (2021) The draft genome sequence of the grove snail Cepaea nemoralis. G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics 11: jkaa071

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