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Horizontal gene transfer and the evolution of insect pathogenicity in bacteria

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Glare
    Mr Hurst
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC) is a Centre of Research Excellence funded by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). We are a virtual organisation with members in five partner institutes and seven other cooperating institutes. The BPRC brings together New Zealand’s leading experts in bioprotection for integrated and innovative research programmes.

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship to research the importance of horizontal gene transfer in the evolution of insect pathogenicity in bacteria. Bacteria that cause disease in insects are important as potential active agents in biopesticides (environmentally safe pest control products). There are a range of species which are known to cause disease in, or are toxic to, insects. In some quite different bacteria, there are similarities between the gene regions which encode for disease or specific toxins. This project will explore the role of horizontal gene transfer in the ecological niche evolution of insect pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria. The project will firstly focus on a genus of non-sporeforming bacteria, Serratia, some species of which can cause disease in larvae of a native scarab beetle. A combination of bioinformatic and molecular approaches will be used to examine the in silico and in vivo movement of genes involved in disease across the species of bacteria and their role in ecological success. Using both in vitro and in vivo insect based studies the project will also determine the relative fitness of pathogenic and their non-pathogenic counterparts.

This programme is part of larger study conducted between five institutes in New Zealand.

You will

• Study gene transfer in several bacterial systems.
• Determine the ecological effects of gene transfer.
• Have access to BPRC and AgResearch facilities.
• Collaborate with internal and external partners.
• Work in close cooperation with a multidisciplinary team including experts in bacterial genetics, bioinformatics and insect pathology.

To apply

Enquiries are welcome. For more information contact Prof Travis Glare, Lincoln University [email protected] or Dr Mark Hurst, AgResearch [email protected]

Please email your application including a cover letter (explaining background and motivation), CV, and publication record (if applicable), including the name of two academic referees, preferably as a single PDF file to Prof Travis Glare, Lincoln University ([email protected])

Before applying, check that you fulfil the Lincoln University PhD admission requirements and the Lincoln University’s postgraduate English language requirements.

Starting date: by 1 June 2016

Funding Notes

We offer

• The possibility to work on a cutting-edge project in a highly motivated research team.
• A stimulating and diverse research environment.
• Advanced training opportunities.
• NZ$28,000 tax-free stipend per annum, plus tuition fees, for 3 years.


Applicants will need:
• a BSc (Hons), MSc or other research degree in Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology or Bioinformatics with a strong academic record.
• Excellent communication skills.

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