About the Project
Crop production faces significant challenges in relation to sustainability, resilience and profitability. Increased output is required to meet the needs of a growing population, but this must be achieved in the face of increasing herbicide and pesticide resistance, a stricter regulatory environment and a diminishing repertoire of agrichemicals, climate change, and increasingly globalised production. Meeting these challenges requires us to develop an in-depth knowledge of the molecular mechanisms underpinning crop performance and soil health. Armed with this knowledge, we are in a better position to develop sustainable strategies to boost crop productivity.
The aim of this PhD project is to obtain an unprecedented level of detailed insight into how polysaccharides deposited by plant roots into the rhizosphere help develop and sustain highly diverse populations of microbes. This is important because the rhizosphere microbial diversity is an important factor in determining soil and plant health. During the project you will acquire training in a variety of state-of-the-art bioimaging and molecular techniques, and experience different working environments at Newcastle and Durham Universities and the James Hutton Institute in Dundee.
One of the challenges traditionally associated with studying roots and soils is that biological activity is hidden underground. In this project, you will work with a novel imaging system in which roots are grown in artificial transparent soils that have physical and chemical properties that closely match those found in natural soils. This system allows us to observe and track interactions between microbes, polysaccharides, soil particles and live roots simultaneously, and in real time. In addition, you will be trained in a range of biochemical techniques to study polysaccharide structures and learn how to assess microbial communities in real soils using state of the art genetic sequencing techniques. Being competent in these techniques will allow you to manipulate soils, roots and polysaccharides in controlled ways and assess the impact on microbial diversity. This knowledge will make a significant contribution to future efforts to enhance soil health and crop performance.
Informal enquiries may be made to firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW TO APPLY
Applications should be made by emailing email@example.com with a CV 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/s and at the selected University. Applications not meeting these criteria will be rejected. We will also require electronic copies of your degree certificates and transcripts.
In addition to the CV and covering letter, please email a completed copy of the Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham (NLD) BBSRC DTP Studentship Application Details Form (Word document) to firstname.lastname@example.org, noting the additional details that are required for your application which are listed in this form. A blank copy of this form can be found at: https://www.nld-dtp.org.uk/how-apply.
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