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Novel biological control strategies against the Large Pine Weevil (Hylobius abietis)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, November 22, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The School of Biological and Environmental Sciences (formerly the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology) is a vibrant school within the Faculty of Science at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). We are involved in extensive research and collaborate with academics in every continent across the world. The School submitted a substantial number of staff to five Units of Assessment in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

For over one hundred years the Large Pine Weevil (Hylobius abietis) has been the major insect pest of conifer plantations. Gravid females lay their eggs under the bark on freshly cut stumps. Larvae and pupae then develop under the bark and, when emerging as adults feed on nearby replanted trees, often ring barking them and causing mortality. Current control measures include pyrethroid applications to saplings, but these chemicals are being phased out and alternative chemicals like neonicotinoids face an uncertain future. One possible solution is the use of biological control. The present project aims to use a “total kill” method to eliminate weevils on experimental sites. Larvae and pupae will be targeted with Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) and emerging adults will be “mopped up” with a lure and kill method using novel traps and entomopathogenic fungi (EPF). The EPF for this project will be sourced from local areas around Liverpool (e.g. the Shropshire Meres and Mosses) by baiting soil samples with Galleria mellonnella. The efficacy of EPN will be assessed by emergence trapping and destructive sampling of stumps and efficacy of EPF will be assessed through mark-recapture of adult weevils. The fate of EPF will be monitored using molecular methods (e.g. RFLPs and sequencing).

The supervisory team consists of Drs Christopher D Williams, Robbie Rae (both at LJMU) and Roger Moore (Forest Research Northern Research Station). All three supervisors run an active research programme and have experience of working with nematodes and insect and other invertebrate pests.

Applicants are invited who possess a 2(i) or higher degree in biological or environmental sciences. Applicants should send a letter of motivation together with a full CV listing the contact details for two academic referees to . Please note that we will facilitate Skype interviews for applicants who cannot travel to LJMU.

Funding Notes

Only UK & EU citizens can apply for this studentship. Funding will consist of full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at UK Research Council rates. Funding will be subject to satisfactory progress.


For an informal discussion about this opportunity please email Dr Christopher D Williams e-mail: [email protected] for more information.

Applicants should email a CV, covering letter detailing their suitability for the project and contact details of two referees to Dr Christopher D Williams e-mail: [email protected]

Applicants must be available for interview 27/11/2019.

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