About the Project
Cumulative damage to biological macromolecules including DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids occurs in cells during prolonged periods of dormancy. There is thus strong selection pressure to ensure that extending lifespan in dormancy does not compromise subsequent vigour. We hypothesise that, similar to desiccation-tolerant seeds, cyst nematodes have evolved powerful protection and repair mechanisms. Recent advances by co-supervisor Dr West have revealed crucial roles for genome maintenance pathways in the extended survival of seeds in the quiescent state. These features are shared widely amongst anhydrobiotic organisms and provide an exciting new target for understanding and attenuating the nematode lifecycle.
• Assess cumulative damage to DNA, proteins and lipid during nematode dormancy.
• Determine the activity of genome maintenance pathways in cyst nematodes after release from dormancy.
• Correlate nematode diapause status with differential protection against cumulative stress.
This project will combine a range of state of the art techniques to reveal how nematodes have adapted to survive for extended periods in the soil. Accumulating cellular damage will be quantified using laser scanning confocal microscopy, cytogenetics and immunological approaches. Nematode cellular responses and adaptive mechanisms will be characterised using qPCR, RNASeq and chromatography. This will provide the first evidence for the molecular basis of nematode longevity in the soil, fundamental to the development of a new suite of control measures.
4 year fully-funded programme of integrated research and skills training, starting Oct 2020:
• Research Council Stipend
• UK/EU Tuition Fees
• Conference and research funding
At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent. We welcome students with backgrounds in biological, chemical or physical sciences, or mathematical backgrounds with an interest in biological questions.
EU candidates require 3 years of UK residency to receive full studentship
Not all projects will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.
Lilley, C.J., Atkinson, H.J., Urwin, P.E. (2005) Molecular aspects of cyst nematodes. Molecular Plant Pathology 6: 577-588.
Jones, L.M., Koehler, A-K., Trnka, M., Balek, J., Challinor, A.J., Atkinson, H.J. and Urwin, P.E. (2017) Climate change is predicted to alter the current pest status of Globodera pallida and G. rostochiensis in the United Kingdom. Global Change Biology 23(11):4497-4507.
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