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Investigating the potential of seaweed extracts for use as biopesticides against the forest regeneration pest the Large Pine Weevil Hylobius abietis and some common weed species

  • Full or part time
    Dr N McCarthy
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, April 26, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Post summary

Applications are invited for a postgraduate position in the area of the potential use of seaweed extracts as pesticides in forestry. The primary research methodology utilised in this project will be both field- and laboratory-based. Initially, the student will be trained in seaweed species identification, seaweed collection and processing procedures. The project supervisors and current postgraduate students will facilitate this training. Extraction procedures which will be utilised include liquid extraction and supercritical fluid extraction. Purification of the extract and concentration into a form suitable for application as a biopesticide will be carried out.

Phytochemical analysis of the bioactive components and main mechanism of action will be investigated by use of the broad suite of analytical facilities in WIT to try and determine the nature of the bioactive. This includes the use of GC-MS, LC-MS and NMR. Extensive training on these pieces of equipment will be given to the student. Analytical support will be facilitated by technical and academic staff at WIT.

These bioactive formulations will be tested as a potential pesticide in vitro against the Great pine weevil Hylobius abietis a potentially devastating pest to conifer forest regeneration and also as a potential herbicide to replace the under threat herbicide glyphosate, to determine their spectrum of activity. The mortality data will be gathered, correlated and compared to commercial pesticides. Here the student will be trained in forest protection techniques learning how to capture, collect and rear some common pests in Irish forests as well as techniques in collecting seeds and growing weed species for use in the indicator trials.
Toxicity testing in cell culture assays will also be carried out and the development of resistance to the extract over time established. The range of activity against multiple pests, and mortality rates will be established and these will be compared to commercial pesticides. The student will be supported in laboratory data analysis and statistical evaluation of the results by the project supervisors and through attendance at appropriate skills training.

Standard duties and responsibilities of the scholarship

• To screen a range of seaweed derived crude extracts for potential use as biopesticides against the forest regeneration pest the Great pine weevil Hylobius abietis and also as a potential herbicide to replace the under threat herbicide glyphosate
• To purify and concentrate the most promising extracts into a form which will be the most suitable for biopesticide application.
• To carry out phytochemical analysis of the bioactive compound to try and identify which is the main mechanism of action.
• To carry out testing of these bioactive(s) against the Great pine weevil Hylobius abietis and some common forest weed species to determine range of activity, toxicology and mortality rates and to compare those to commercial pesticides.
• To be trained in the multidisciplinary area of forestry, chemistry and biology, thereby achieving a set of skills, including generic skills that will make them a valuable future researcher.
• The student will also undertake the generic skills training for postgraduate students facilitated by WIT and be bound by all the rules and regulations associated with postgraduate research in WIT.

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year full-time structured Phd programme

Stipend: €12,000 p/a
Fees: €4,500 p/a
Research costs: €2,000 p/a

For any informal queries, please contact Dr Nick McCarthy, +353 51 302646

For more information on this scholarship and how to apply, please go to View Website

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