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Urease metabolism in the wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 11, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Septoria tritici blotch is a serious worldwide disease of wheat that is caused by the fungus Zymoseptoria tritici. In some cases up to 50% of wheat yields are lost due to Z. tritici infection. Pathogenic fungi are able to sense and modulate the pH of their environment to ensure that the local pH is optimal for their growth and the activity of secreted virulence factors. Manipulation of pH can also have a detrimental impact on the ability of the host to raise a full immune response. Fungi produce ammonia during the catabolism of nitrogenous compounds and its generation results in alkalinisation of the local environment. This is due to ammonia acquiring a proton from solution to generate the ammonium ion. The nickel enzyme urease is an important pH regulator as it converts urea into ammonia and carbon dioxide. We will test the hypothesis that the urease activity of Z. tritici modulates the external pH of this fungus and that this process is required the virulence of this important pathogen. This will involve the use of a range of molecular techniques to study Z. tritici urease metabolism and the virulence of mutants lacking urease and the accessory proteins required for its maturation. Structural studies of the Z. tritici urea and nickel transporters will also be undertaken.

For further information see the website:

To apply

Please complete the online application form and attach a full CV and covering letter. Informal enquiries may be made to

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year BBSRC studentship under the Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham DTP. The successful applicant will receive research costs, tuition fees and stipend (£14,777 for 2018-19). The PhD will start in October 2019. 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. There are 2 stages to the application process.


The emerging role of urease as a general microbial virulence factor. Rutherford JC. PLoS Pathog. 2014 May 15;10(5):e1004062.

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