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Understanding B/CYDV epidemiology and mechanisms underlying resistance in grain aphids

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  • Full or part time
    Assoc Prof T Wilkinson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description


Barley and cereal yellow dwarf virus (B/CYDV) are a complex of widespread and economically important cereal viruses that cause major losses in grain yield. The viruses are transmitted solely by aphids, which are therefore an important target for the development of sustainable IPM approaches to control disease outbreaks. However, to achieve this a more detailed understanding of the ecology of both the aphid vector and B/CYDV pathogen are required. Due to the absence of efficient resistance/tolerance mechanisms in cereals, insecticide use represents the primary method of B/CYDV control, a strategy further complicated by the recent appearance of insecticide resistance in aphids due to pyrethroid ‘knock-down’ (kdr). First detected in the grain aphid in the UK in 2012, kdr has now been confirmed in Irish aphid populations. Understanding B/CYDV epidemiology and insecticide resistance in aphids is therefore fundamental to our ability to develop novel control strategies that help rationalise the use of insecticides and reduce economic losses caused by B/CYDV within the agricultural industry.

This project aims to investigate the epidemiology of B/CYDV and resistance mechanisms in the grain aphid, Sitobion avenae, the most important cereal aphid in Ireland. This project will investigate the molecular basis of pyrethroid resistance using dual transcriptomic/proteomic approaches in both resistant and susceptible S. avenae. The successful candidate will also assess the vector capability of resistant and susceptible S. avenae for the transmission of B/CYDV, which will involve a research placement in France.

Applicants should have a first or upper second class Honours B.Sc. degree or M.Sc. degree in an appropriate biological discipline (biology, zoology, environmental science, entomology etc.). Experience in insect molecular biology and bioinformatics would be desirable, but full training will be provided. The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated and can expect extended periods of both laboratory and field work, for which a full EU driving licence is required.

The PhD Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc (Oak Park), Maynooth University (MU), INRA (Montpellier) and University College Dublin (UCD). The student will register for a 4 year structured PhD in the School of Biology and Environmental Science at UCD (see, but will be based, in the first instance, at the Teagasc Research Centre at Oak Park, Co. Carlow and will also spend time at Maynooth University, UCD, and INRA, working under the supervision of Dr. Louise Mc Namara (Teagasc), Dr Jim Carolan (MU), Assoc. Prof Tom Wilkinson (UCD), Dr Michael Gaffney (Teagasc) and Dr. Emmanuel Jacquot (INRA).

Further Information/Applications
Assoc. Prof Tom Wilkinson, School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
Phone: +353 (01) 7162264 email: [Email Address Removed]
Application Procedure
Submit an electronic copy of Curriculum Vitae and a letter of interest to:
Assoc. Prof Tom Wilkinson ([Email Address Removed]) and Dr Michael Gaffney ([Email Address Removed])

Closing date
Friday 23rd August 2019

Funding Notes

The Fellowship will commence as soon as possible after 1st of October 2019 and will provide an annual stipend of €22,000. University registration fees of €6,000 p.a. will be paid by the student from the stipend, which is tenable for 4 years.

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