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IAFRI PhD Studentship: Developing insecticidal peptides/proteins as biopesticides for the control of lepidopteran pests

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr A Bronowska, Dr Tom McAllister  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Crop protection relies heavily on synthetic chemical pesticides, but their availability is declining as a result of legislation to reduce the risks and impacts on human health and the environment as well as the development of resistance in pest populations. Alternative control options which can be incorporated into integrated pest management (IPM) strategies are therefore required.

Biopesticides are considered excellent alternatives to conventional synthetic pesticides; they are highly effective, target-specific, pose fewer environmental risks and provide options to manage resistance to synthetic chemicals. They have become an integral part of IPM and can be used in some organic farming practices.

The project will focus on developing biopesticides against lepidopteran pests (e.g. oak processionary moth, cutworms and armyworms, cabbage moth) of plant and tree health importance.

When delivered outside their normal physiological time-frames peptide hormones and enzymes, which function to regulate insect development and maintain homeostasis, have been reported to have insecticidal activity and cause mortality, or disrupt fitness and reproductive capacity, to reduce pest populations. However, such toxins do not readily penetrate the insect cuticle and are not orally active because they are rapidly degraded by gut enzymes and have limited uptake across the gut epithelium. Hence, delivery systems or modifications to such molecules are required to enhance their stability and uptake.

Using molecular, biochemical and in vitro and in vivo assays, insecticidal compounds will be identified, optimised and tested to determine their efficacy. Addressing the barriers to delivery thereby improving bioavailability and efficacy will progress insecticidal peptides along the biopesticide development pipeline.

Number Of Awards


Start Date

October 2022 

Award Duration

3 years


IAFRI - Fera Science Ltd & Newcastle University (School of Natural and Environmental Sciences)


Lead supervisor(s)

Neil Audsley (Fera Science Ltd): [Email Address Removed]

Agnieszka Bronowska (Newcastle University): [Email Address Removed]

Tom McAllister (Newcastle University): [Email Address Removed]

Eligibility Criteria

IAFRI studentships are funded jointly by Newcastle University and Fera Science Ltd for 3 years. Funding will cover stipend, tuition fees and research consumables at the UK rate only. IAFRI studentships are available to both UK and international applicants. Residency rules apply. International and EU fee rate candidates will need to cover additional costs.

We are looking for highly motivated individuals who have or are expecting to attain at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject and with experience in/an aspiration to work in or alongside industry.

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

  • Insert the programme code 8100F in the programme of study section
  •  Select ‘PhD Chemistry (full time) - Chemistry’ as the programme of study
  • Insert the studentship code IAFR2203 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code IAFR2203 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications

Contact Details

Neil Audsley: [Email Address Removed]

Agnieszka Bronowska: [Email Address Removed]

Tom McAllister: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

100% of Home tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,609.
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