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Safeguarding soy production against climate change

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Dodd
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

PhD Studentship & Secondment in China under the SEW-REAP Programme

In the face of increasingly unpredictable climatic conditions such as drought and extreme temperatures, crop production systems need to deliver a reliable food supply. This problem is particularly acute in China, which has to feed approximately 20% of the world’s population with less than 5% of the world’s arable land and fresh water supplies for agriculture. Growing demand for animal protein within the Chinese diet has resulted in substantial imports of soybean meal from other soy-producing nations; a paradox considering that soybean is native of China. Nevertheless, there is growing interest in improving the productivity of this crop within China, by exploiting both genetic and management solutions to overcome problems of water scarcity.

Crop yields of droughted legumes (eg. soybean) can be substantially improved by altering plant hormone (eg. ABA, ethylene) signalling. As the soil dries, photosynthesis can be constrained by root-to-shoot ABA signalling (Liu et al. 2005; Env. Exp. Bot. 54, 33-40). Leaf growth can be constrained by root-to-shoot signalling of the ethylene precursor ACC, which may be overcome by inoculating the soil with naturally occurring rhizobacteria containing the enzyme ACC deaminase (Belimov et al. 2009; New Phytol. 181, 413-423). Altered root-to-shoot signalling will be partially explained by root metabolic and developmental changes in response to drying soil. Consequently this project aims to:
- identify genetic variation in soybean root growth and physiology in responses to drying soil
- measure the impact of root-to-shoot signalling of drying soil on shoot physiology, in genotypes showing different root development
- exploit this improved understanding of the phytohormonal regulation of yield-determining processes by using genetic or management approaches to sustain yield

Further Information: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/sci-tech/downloads/phd_244.pdf

Academic Requirements: First-class or 2.1 (Hons) degree, or Masters degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject.

Deadline for applications: 31 January 2016

Provisional Interview Date: [tbc] Mid February 2016

Start Date: April 2016 or October 2016

For further information or informal discussion about the position, please contact Prof Ian Dodd ([email protected])

Application process: Please upload a completed application form (download from http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/media/lancaster-university/content-assets/documents/lec/pg/LEC_Funded_PhD_Application_Form.docx) outlining your background and suitability for this project and a CV at LEC Postgraduate Research Applications, http://www.lec.lancs.ac.uk/postgraduate/pgresearch/apply-online.

You also require two references, please send the reference form (download from http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/media/lancaster-university/content-assets/documents/lec/pg/LEC_Funded_PhD_Reference_Form.docx) to your two referees and ask them to email it to Andy Harrod ([email protected]), Postgraduate Research (PGR) Co-ordinator, Lancaster Environment Centre by the deadline.

Due to the limited time between the closing date and the interview date, it is essential that you ensure references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible.

Funding Notes

This studentship includes a Lancaster University Faculty of Science & Technology studentship and a 2-year studentship from the EU EuropeAid SEW-REAP programme. The former covers 3 years of UK/EU tuition fees and one year’s maintenance in the UK (at £14,057 (tax free)) while the latter provides maintenance support for two years while you are based in China at approximately £1200 per month. This latter sum must also cover flights to China and Chinese language tuition. Unfortunately studentships are not available to non-UK/EU applicants.

References

1. AA Belimov, IC Dodd, N Hontzeas, JC Theobald, VI Safronova, WJ Davies (2009) Rhizosphere bacteria containing ACC deaminase increase yield of plants grown in drying soil via both local and systemic hormone signalling. New Phytologist 181, 413-423.
2. L Chen, IC Dodd, WJ Davies, S Wilkinson (2013) Ethylene limits abscisic acid and soil-drying induced stomatal closure in aged wheat leaves. Plant, Cell and Environment 36: 1850-1859.
3. IC Dodd, J Puértolas, K Huber, JG Pérez-Pérez, HR Wright, MSA Blackwell (2015) The importance of soil drying and re-wetting in crop phytohormonal and nutritional responses to deficit irrigation. Journal of Experimental Botany 66, 2239-2252.

How good is research at Lancaster University in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

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