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Uncovering new signalling nodes in the interaction between wheat and the fungal pathogen Mycosphaerella graminicola (Septoria tritici)

Department of Biosciences

Prof A Sadanandom , Wednesday, September 30, 2020 Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Mycosphaerella graminicola is an economically important fungal pathogen of wheat leaves and the causal agent of Septoria tritici blotch disease (STB). Loss of the UK wheat yield by Septoria is estimated between 10-30%, equating to an economic loss of £200-£600m/y. Despite the importance of STB, there is very little information available on the defence mechanisms or immune responses that allow wheat to counter Septoria infection. This is a collaborative PhD project between industry (Limagrain UK Ltd) and academic partners based at Durham University will aim to uncover fundamentally new knowledge about the regulation of molecular mechanisms of fungal defence in wheat. Our research group utilises cutting edge “omics” technologies like, Next Generation Sequencing, computational biology and molecular genetics in the project to generate new knowledge that will underpin the development of modern wheat varieties with increased defence against STB. The student will be trained in biochemical, molecular, and imaging techniques along with assays relating to describing the cellular aspects of pathogen infection of plants. The project is designed to provide the student with an opportunity to carry out research on an intellectually challenging problem in an excellent research environment, while also receiving a thorough training in a range of research areas including: including molecular genetics and proteomics. You will be embedded within a highly active and collaborative research environment, with potential for involvement with, and travel to, major international research programmes aimed at improving wheat. You will gain training experience in both academic and industrial settings, which will aid your career development.


Applications should be made by emailing with a CV (including contact details of at least two academic (or other relevant) referees), and a covering letter, including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project and at the selected University. Applications not meeting these criteria will be rejected.

In addition to the CV and covering letter, please email a completed copy of the Additional Details Form (Word document) to . A blank copy of this form can be found at:

Informal enquiries may be made to

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year BBSRC CASE studentship under the Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham DTP. The successful applicant will receive research costs, tuition fees and stipend (£15,285 for 2020-21). The PhD will start in January 2021. Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, a 2.1 Hons degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. EU candidates must have been resident in the UK for 3 years in order to receive full support. Please note, there are 2 stages to the application process.


SUMO conjugation to the pattern recognition receptor FLS2 is required to trigger intracellular signalling in plant innate immunity. Nature Communications. 2018, 9(1): 5185

SUMO Suppresses the Activity of the Jasmonic Acid Receptor CORONATINE INSENSITIVE 1. Plant Cell. 2018 Aug 16. pii: tpc.00036.2018. doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00036

Functional analysis of a Wheat Homeodomain protein, TaR1, reveals that host chromatin remodelling influences the dynamics of the switch to necrotrophic growth in the phytopathogenic fungus Zymoseptoria tritici. New Phytologist. 2015 Apr;206(2):598-605. doi: 10.1111/nph.13323

The ubiquitin conjugating enzyme, TaU4 regulates wheat defence against the phytopathogen Zymoseptoria tritici.Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 19;6:35683. doi: 10.1038/srep35683

Post-translational modifications in priming the plant immune system: ripe for exploitation? FEBS Lett. 2018 Jun;592(12):1929-1936. doi: 10.1002/1873 3468.13076

Fifty shades of SUMO: its role in immunity and at the fulcrum of the growth-defence balance. Molecular Plant Pathology. 2018 Jun;19(6):1537-1544. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12625

6. Fifty shades of SUMO: its role in immunity and at the fulcrum of the growth-defence balance. Molecular Plant Pathology. 2018 Jun;19(6):1537-1544. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12625.

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