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Sustainable solutions to combat Downy Mildew pathogen of pea (ARORA_J22CASE)

   Graduate Programme

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  Dr S Arora  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Pea is a globally important legume crop valued for its role in soil nitrogen fixation, sustainable agriculture and providing a rich source of plant protein. The crop yield and quality are at a high risk from Downy Mildew (DM) pathogen, affecting both vining and combining peas in the UK, due to the recent withdrawal of the widely used metalaxyl-M containing fungicides for outdoor sowing of seeds. The aim of this project is to use genomic tools to understand the pathogen diversity and its role in disease epidemics, find and validate novel sources of genetic resistance to DM. To this end, we will evaluate a genetically diverse Pisum germplasm collection containing cultivars, landraces and wild species for novel sources of resistance and validate the potential of discovered candidate genes using mutants, biparental populations and/or gene editing. Identified resistances will be transferred into elite pea varieties, using marker-assisted selection in collaboration with our industrial partner, Limagrain, where the student will have the opportunity to undertake a three-month placement. The pathogen diversity will also be genetically characterized to develop a diagnostic tool for the rapid identification of pathogen races and map their distribution across UK to help the growers make an informed decision in the variety selection. 

We are looking for a motivated student who is interested to explore the Pisum germplasm and implement state-of-the-art gene cloning technologies, including association genetics using both resistance gene enrichment sequencing (AgRenSeq) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). Training will be provided in plant pathology, genetics, breeding, molecular biology techniques and bioinformatics. 

This is a BBSRC NRPDTP-funded CASE studentship based in the laboratory of Sanu Arora and co-supervised by Claire Domoney, in close collaboration with our industrial partner Limagrain. The student will also collaborate with NIAB, Cambridge to culture isolates of DM pathogen and develop high-throughput phenotyping methods. 

The Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) is open to UK and international candidates for entry October 2022 and offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP CASE students undertake a three to 18-month placement with the non-academic partner during their study. The placement offers experience designed to enhance professional development. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NRPDTP programme. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 15th March 2022. 

Visit our website for further information on eligibility and how to apply:

Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Funding Notes

This project is awarded with a 4-year Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) PhD studentship. The studentship includes payment of tuition fees (directly to the University), a stipend for each year of the studentship (2021/2 stipend rate: £15,609), and a Research Training Support Grant for each year of the studentship of £5,000 p.a.
Please note that all international awards have been made for our programme for 2022 so we will not be accepting applications from international candidates, as defined by UKRI’s guidance on International Eligibility criteria for UKRI funded studentships - View Website -


[1] Gaurav*, Arora* et al., Resistance gene cloning from a wild crop relative by sequence capture and association genetics. accepted in Nature Biotechnology
[2] Arora et al., Resistance gene cloning from a wild crop relative by sequence capture and association genetics. (2019) Nature Biotechnology 37: 139-143
[3] Domoney et al., Exploiting a fast neutron mutant genetic resource in Pisum sativum (pea) for functional genomics. (2013) Functional Plant Biology 40: 1261-70
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