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iCASE: Characterisation of the aphid nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene family

Project Description

Applications are invited to undertake an exciting opportunity to work at the interface between academia and industry.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) mediate fast synaptic transmission in insects and are targets of effective insecticides such as neonicotinoids. For protecting crops, neonicotinoids have become the most widely used class of insecticides in the world. However, their use has been restricted in the European Union amidst fears that they are having adverse effects on pollinators such as the honey bee, Apis mellifera. This has resulted in the use of an older class of pesticides, pyrethroids, to which pests have become resistant. There is thus the need to develop novel pest control agents that have higher selectivity for pests over beneficial species and which allow more effective resistance management strategies.

The successful candidate will functionally/pharmacologically characterise nAChRs of the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae, which is a major pest of crops, and of the honey bee, Apis mellifera, which is an important pollinator of crops. The aim is to determine aphid-specific features that can be exploited for the future development of insecticides that are highly selective towards pest species whilst sparing beneficial insects. The project will provide opportunities for training in skills from several diverse disciplines including molecular biology, pharmacology, electrophysiology, modelling of protein structure and ligand-binding dynamics.

The research will take place at Oxford Brookes University with a placement at Syngenta’s International Research Centre at Jealott’s Hill in Berkshire.

For further information or enquiries about the project please feel welcome to email Andrew Jones ().

This project is supported through the Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) studentship programme. The student recruited to this project will join a cohort of students enrolled in the DTP’s interdisciplinary training programme, and will be able to take full advantage of the training and networking opportunities available through the DTP. For further, details please visit http://www.biodtp.ox.ac.uk.

Funding Notes

Funding notes:
This project is funded for four years by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council BBSRC. BBSRC eligibility criteria apply (View Website). EU nationals who do not meet BBSRC residence criteria are encouraged to contact the programme administrator to check their eligibility for BBSRC funding before submitting a formal application. Successful students will receive a stipend of no less than the standard RCUK stipend rate, currently set at £14,553 per year, which will usually be supplemented by the industrial partner.

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