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Measuring pesticide exposure and microbial-level impacts in soil ecosystems using novel passive sampler devices


   Institute of Chemical Biology

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  Dr Leon Barron, Dr Bonnie Waring, Dr Will Pearse, Dr G Woodward, Dr R Gill  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is co-sponsored by Syngenta

Microbes represent the lowest trophic level and entry point to the food web and are critical indicators of soil ecosystem health under chemical stress.

This interdisciplinary project will combine our expertise in analytical chemistry, soil science, genomic sequencing, and machine learning to develop and validate a new technology to measure impacts in soil. Specifically, this will focus on the development of a passive sampling probe device (PSD) for soil. This probe will house physical, chemical, and microbial sampling functions to show how specific indicator taxa and the wider soil microbiome are affected upon exposure to (agri)chemicals.

Key to this project is our unique capability to scale this study up and deploy a large number of PSD probes in controlled-condition soils. Using metagenomic sequencing data, machine learning will be used to identify indicator taxa that have been impacted by different chemical classes and evaluate their potential use as biosensors.

Ultimately, this project will provide new, multifunctional and adaptable probes for soil microbiology and chemistry sampling, coupled with scalable supporting analytical methodologies to better understand chemical transport, fate and microbial impacts.

Importantly, this project will provide a much-needed evidence base for the sustainable use of microbes as biosensors of chemical impacts in the terrestrial environment for the first time.

Project themes: Chemical transport and fate, multi-residue chemical analysis, soil passive samplers, 3D-printing, chemical biology, bio-entrepreneurship, Agri chemistry 


Funding Notes

UK residents or EU settled/pre-settled status can apply.
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