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Identifying global regulators of effector gene expression in the rice blast fungus (TALBOTS20DTP)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, November 25, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Magnaporthe oryzae is the causal agent of rice blast, one of the most serious diseases affecting rice cultivation around the world. The fungus also causes wheat blast, a disease that now threatens wheat production in South America and South Asia.

During plant infection, the rice blast fungus undergoes differential expression and secretion of a large set of effector proteins, many of which are directed into plant cells using a specific secretory pathway. M. oryzae possesses a large repertoire of effector proteins, with as many as 400 effector genes present in many isolates and this is a common feature of plant pathogenic fungi. How such a large family of effector-encoding genes is regulated is currently unknown.

This project will identify transcriptional regulators of effector gene expression in the rice blast fungus using a novel forward genetic screen that selects for mutations that affect the temporal expression patterns of known effector genes. This screen has already proven successful in identifying transcriptional regulators and offers considerable potential in identifying many of the key regulators of effector gene expression. The project offers the opportunity to define the transcriptional circuitry that governs plant infection by one of the world’s most economically important plant pathogens.

The project will provide broad training in molecular genetics, genomics, cell biology and plant-microbe interactions. Intellectually, the project provides a challenge in understanding global regulation of gene expression during disease and how this is co-ordinated in association with the developmental biology of the fungus.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 7th, 8th or 9th January 2020.

The NRP DTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second-class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: View Website. Full Studentships cover a stipend (2019/0 rate: £15,009pa), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

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