MSc BY RESEARCH PROJECT: Is larval imprinting a key mechanism by which insect crop pests can switch to new host plants?

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr Sinead English  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Insect crop pests are a major challenge to global food security. A potential mechanism underlying insects’ ability to infest new plants is through larval imprinting, where host plant preferences of an adult are determined by the plant they experienced as a larva. However, whether such imprinting facilitates the success of crop pests at adapting to new agricultural host plants is unclear. Indeed, there has yet to be a general comparative study on the prevalence and effectiveness of larval imprinting in plant-feeding insects in general. In this project, the student will produce the first comparative study of larval imprinting across plant-feeding insects – focusing on which characteristics of crop pest species make them more amenable to using imprinting to switch to new host species. The student will also conduct their own experimental study to test predictions raised by this comparative approach and use insights from evolutionary ecology and developmental neurobiology to establish why and how such larval imprinting is retained across life stages. Understanding host plant switches in crop pests and non-native species will help establish why some species rapidly move onto new hosts, and help determine which ecological characteristics predict this ability, providing red flags for monitoring pest invasions.

Making an application

When applying for the Lady Emily Smyth MSc by Research Projects in the School of Biological Sciences please choose 'Biological Sciences (MSc) (R)' from the Programme Choice drop down menu (see for other Schools offering projects under this Studentship). You will need to make a separate application for each project.  

UK students are eligible to apply for this award using the University of Bristol's postgraduate application form. Students should indicate their preferred supervisor and that they wish to be considered for the Lady Emily Smyth MScR Studentship. The closing date for applications is 31st January 2022

Applications by email will not be considered. Please apply online following the above link.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

The Lady Emily Smyth Studentship is a prestigious award to support two scholars undertaking Masters by Research at the University of Bristol. Funded by the Bristol Centre for Agricultural Innovation, the award will cover the full cost of fees, stipend and consumables for a year, with a supplement to support dissemination.
For further information on funding please see:
Only available for UK students.

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