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Validating and Exploiting Inositol Phosphoryl Ceramide Synthase as a Novel Herbicide Target

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, July 31, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

With the global population predicted to continue rising there is a need for more efficient food production. An essential component of sustainable intensive cereal production is effective crop protection agents. However, many of the existing agents available to farmers are now threatened by the rapid growth in resistance and increasing regulatory demands. We face a future in which it will not be possible to control the rise of super weeds with existing technologies. This multidisciplinary project embracing synthetic chemistry, chemical biology, biochemistry and modern crops science seeks to validate a new mode of herbicide action together with small molecules that represent novel herbicidal structures. In recent work we have identified the enzyme, inositol phosphoryl ceramide synthase, plays a key regulatory role in sphingolipid synthesis. Disruption of this enzyme in whole plant assays leads to an accumulation of ceramide and a triggering of programmed cell death. As such the enzyme represents a potential new herbicide target. A medium throughput screen of the Bayer Crop Science identified four structural classes of enzyme inhibitors that affected the enzyme in either monocots or dicots but not both. This project will build on this exciting position, exploring these hits through re-synthesis and biochemical assays and then seek to optimise the activity and selectivity though structural modifications and further validate the mode of action using enzyme assays, biophysical and metabolic studies and whole plant assays.

How good is research at Durham University in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.80

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

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