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Long-term effects of pesticides on environmental health – how does exposure of a female egg-laying insect to pesticides affect subsequent generations?

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, December 31, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Oxford Brookes University
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences,
Department of Biomedical and Medical Sciences

3 Year, full-time PhD studentship
Eligibility: Home UK/EU applicants who must be permanently resident in UK/EU
Closing date: 31 December 2019
Start date: September 2020
Interview: w/c 13/01/2020
Bursary p.a.: Bursary equivalent to UKRI national minimum stipend plus fees (2019/20 bursary rate is £15,009)
University fees and bench fees at the Home/EU rate will be met by the University for the 3 years of the Studentship.
Supervisors: Dr Casper J. Breuker, Dr Andrew Jones, and Dr Melanie Gibbs

Although controls are in place for pesticide use, including banning certain pesticides from outdoor use (e.g. various neonicotinoids in the EU), most of these measures are based on evidence from research on the short-term effects of continuous use. Little is known of the long-term effects of pesticide use, and how much variation there is between insect species in their response. In this project we aim to gain an understanding of the molecular basis underlying a specific type of long-term effect; transgenerational effects. If a parent is exposed to pesticides how does that affect subsequent generations of offspring, even when they are not directly exposed themselves? In order to address this important and topical environmental health question, research is required on a broader range of insect species to complement the on-going studies that use commercially important pollinators such as bees. Many other insects, like butterflies, that are beneficial to the environment and fulfil important eco-system functions, are known to also be negatively affected by pesticide use. In our research group we have used butterflies to characterise maternal regulation of embryonic development (e.g., and also reviewed the large gaps in our knowledge on the effects of pesticides on butterflies ( In this project, we wish to elucidate how embryonic insect development is affected by maternal pesticide exposure (e.g. thiacloprid and acetamiprid). We will collect transcriptomic as well as fitness data, and the project will involve insect stock maintenance, experimental rearing, molecular work, and bioinformatics. Although the project will focus primarily on butterflies (e.g. Bicyclus anynana and Pararge aegeria), the project does offer scope to expand into comparative molecular work on other beneficial insect species, insect pests (that are often pesticide targets), and powerful insect lab systems for molecular work on transgenerational effects e.g. the fruit fly.

For further information contact Dr Casper J. Breuker ()

Funding Notes

Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK or acceptable equivalent qualification in Life Sciences discipline. EU Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate (or equivalent) with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre.
How to apply:
Applications should be sent to and should include the following application
(View Website).

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