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Saving our daily bread from yellow rust (WULFFJ19CASE2)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, April 23, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Throughout history, disease epidemics have been ubiquitous in agriculture. Yellow rust is a major fungal disease of wheat. In recent years, new isolates of the pathogen have caused wide-scale epidemics in Europe, Africa and the Americas. The identification of genes conferring resistance to yellow rust and the development of new resistant wheat varieties is essential to counter this threat.

The landrace ancestors of our elite wheat varieties represent a rich source of genetic variation with huge potential for improving disease resistance. Identification and manipulation of genes underpinning this variation will help to sustainably increase yields and secure global food security.

In this PhD project, you will employ state-of-the-art enabling technologies including resistance gene enrichment sequencing coupled to association genetics (AgRenSeq), ‘speed breeding’ and high-throughput phenotyping to discover, characterize and clone yellow rust resistance genes in wheat landraces. In collaboration with our industrial partner, RAGT, you will use marker-assisted selection to transfer the identified resistance genes into elite wheat lines for field testing.

Our overarching long-term objective is to understand the genetic basis of yellow rust immunity in wheat landraces and combine this resistance in cultivated bread wheat in ways that would promote the durability of the resistance.

The project will be jointly supervised by Brande Wulff and Cristobal Uauy at the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park, and conducted in close collaboration with RAGT UK Ltd.

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: View Website. Full Studentships cover a stipend (UKRI rate: £15,009pa – 2019/0), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to students who meet the UK residency requirements.
Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.


AgRenSeq: Arora et al (2019) Nature Biotechnology 37:139-143.
Speed Breeding: Watson et al (2018) Nature Plants 4:23-29.

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