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KESS2 East PhD in Chemistry: Developing non-insecticide control of codling moth and related pests using the synthetic moth sex pheromones for South Wales fresh food production

Cardiff School of Chemistry

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Prof RK Allemann , Prof J Pickett No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This PhD project in the School of Chemistry, in collaboration with the commercial partner Lisk & Jones Consultants Ltd will research the development of high-performance sex pheromone pest control for fresh fruit and vegetables in the South Wales region.

This will replace use of insecticides and, using innovative chemistry for production of the pheromones, will develop their farm use, with the partner. You will gain excellent experience in sustainable and environmentally friendly pest control for commercially important food crops.


Codling moth, the most destructive insect pest of apples, will be targeted first with the pheromone Codlemone synthesised by a new route designed to give the high purity required for maximum performance in moth attraction. Initially the pheromone will be used for monitoring pest populations, but subsequent development with the partner will lead to direct control of the pest in commercial orchards by mating disruption. Eventually the technology will also be applied to other related crop pests.

The project will involve chemical synthesis, advanced analytical techniques for pheromone characterisation and novel formulation for stability and slow release in orchards. The work will extend from laboratory to field with close engagement with the partner and the fresh food industry.

Aims and methods

Synthesis of codling moth, Cydia pomonella, sex pheromone, Codlemone, (E,E)-8,10-dodecdienol, by Diels-Alder cyclisation gives pure isomer for sustainable scale-up and field testing. Advanced chromatography and spectroscopy in further chromatographic purification will maximise male attraction and pest specificity. Formulation incorporates the pheromone into biodegradable natural polymers together with UV protectants for season-long pest control. Partner and wider commercial involvement will ensure final product compatibility with sustainable farm use in the South Wales region.

The project will involve:
•standard synthesis of Codlemone - testing in standard formulation
•synthesis by new route for isomeric purity - testing
•chromatographic purification - testing in comparison with tethered female moths
•specification of pheromone production method and purity agreed (year 1)
•development of advanced formulations - testing for pest monitoring
•specification of best lure for monitoring agreed (year 2)
•advanced formulations for direct pest control - testing of formulations in direct control
•specification of best formulation for direct control agreed with partner and wider industry
•stakeholder meeting, planning commercialisation opportunities for region following on (year 3).


Professor Rudolf Allemann

Professor John Pickett

Start date 1st April 2020


In the first instance, applicants should make initial enquiries via the named School / academic supervisor for each funded KESS2 project. All applicants must apply initially via the Cardiff University application process for postgraduate study, identifying the KESS2 Scholarship they wish to be considered for.

If deemed suitable for the project, applicants will be invited to complete a ‘KESS2 Participant Form’ which assesses eligibility for funding. Applicants must also be able to provide supporting documentary evidence of their eligibility. Guidance on this requirement is outlined in the KESS2 Participant Form, an example of which can be downloaded as above. Suitable applicants will be sent this form to complete following the School selection process. Further advice is available from the KESS2 team.

Funding Notes

Applicants for these awards must have a home or work address in the relevant area* of Wales (East) at the time of their application for funding and enrolment.

East Wales region is comprised of seven local authorities: Cardiff, Flintshire, Monmouthshire, Newport, Powys, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham.

For more information on eligibility -

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