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Targeting biological control applications using automated sporesampling and disease forecasting (IAF2001)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 14, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Use of conventional crop protection products is under increasing pressure following withdrawal of actives due to regulation and resistance. This has driven significant growth in the biopesticide market, up 300% between 2008-2018 and worth £6billion globally. Despite the investment, biopesticides are not widely used in the arable sector, where the biggest benefits in terms of (i) reduction in the use of synthetic chemistry (ii) increased sales due to area of crop being managed and (iii) the potential for integrated crop management approaches to prolong the life of synthetic products would be realised. Microbial biocontrol agents act via a range of modes of action and as a result may need to be applied either before, at the same time or just after the arrival of the pathogen on the host plant. It is
therefore thought that effective application should be dictated by better understanding the biology and epidemiology of the target pathogen and biopesticide rather than the growth stage of the host.
Key questions include:
• Can optimising the timing of biopesticide application based on pathogen ingress improve efficacy.
• Can forecasting techniques be used to identify optimal conditions for biopesticide activity.
• Does disease forecasting enhance the implementation of IPM (integration of conventional and
cccbiological products) approaches to disease control.

The proposed model system for the project will be Zymoseptoria infection of wheat but other pathogens may also be included. The project will explore integration of state of the art, automated spore detection technology pioneered by Fera Science Ltd in collaboration with Optisense Ltd. and the CropMonitor disease forecasting platform. The project is interdisciplinary, utilising skills and facilities at both Newcastle University (trials on the farms, molecular diagnostics) and Fera (Molecular Technology Unit and disease forecasting techniques).

PhD project location : Newcastle University.

How to apply:
All applications musty be submitted to Newcastle University.
Please visit the IAFRI website for further guidance:
To apply directly please visit: (ensuring that you note the studentship code. e.g. IAF2001)

Funding Notes

We are looking for a highly motivated and talented individual with skills in plant pathology, plant sciences, molecular biology and microbiology. Essential skills: a degree / post-graduate degree in a discipline related to microbiology/pathology/plant sciences; practical laboratory skills in
microbiology, plant work, molecular biology and statistical analysis.

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