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The rice paddy microbiome and its impact on plant mineral nutrition


Project Description

Project details:

Rice is an important cereal crop. As rice is cultivated in flooded soil it has a rhizosphere marked by oxic zones immediately surrounding the rice root, anoxic zones in bulk soil, and regions of oxic-anoxic interface that provide distinct niches and gradients for aerobic, anaerobic and facultative anaerobic microbes. The rice microbiome consists of archaea, bacteria and fungi, and is thought to drive important rice paddy processes with impact on ecosystem function, rice yield and consumer health. For example, the rice rhizosphere microbiome can improve plant growth via increase of nutrient availability and production of plant growth hormones, as well as protect rice plants from disease via production of antibiotics, and have impact on human health via transformation/mobilisation/immobilisation of toxic compounds (cadmium, arsenic) that can accumulate in rice grain. Hence, exploration of the rice microbiome is of considerable interest with respect to both agriculture and human health. Functional processes of interest are methane cycling, nitrogen loss, phosphorous release, arsenic transformation, endophytes and pathogens. The current project aims to link paddy soil microbiomes from around the world to functional processes that impact on rice cultivation via combined exploration of microbial genomics, soil and plant nutritional characterization and geographic/climatic data.

This project will be supervised by Dr Caroline Meharg and Professor Andy Meharg of Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences/Institute for Global Food Security.

All applications MUST be submitted through https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php.

Specific skills/experience required by applicants:

Interest, expertise and experience in bioinformatics, statistical analysis, data modelling (R, SPSS) and programming in R, python and/or other programming language. Expertise or interest in plant science, microbiology, molecular biology, chemical analysis. Expertise and interest in bioinformatics and statistical analysis relevant to exploration of biological data, phylogenetics, microbial diversity would be an advantage.

All applicants must meet the academic entry requirements: https://www.qub.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate-research/biological-sciences-phd.html#entry

Funding Notes

Only UK and EU students are eligible to apply. Before applying, it is strongly recommended that you read the full information on eligibility criteria available from DfE: View Website.

Please note in particular that not all successful applicants may be eligible to receive a full studentship (i.e. fees and stipend) - please read in detail the Residency and Citizenship requirements in the document linked to above.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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