3-year PhD studentship

Project title: Improved management of light leaf spot in brassicas by exploiting resistance and understanding pathogen variation

Supervisors: Professor Bruce Fitt, Dr David Hughes, Dr Peter Gladders (ADAS)

The Project

This project will help farmers and plant breeders through improving the life-span of new cultivars and decreasing reliance on fungicides. You will gain experience of research in molecular plant pathology and plant breeding, using field-plot, glasshouse and molecular lab facilities in academic and commercial settings. Such training will be invaluable for a future career in the applied plant pathology or plant breeding.

Light leaf spot (Pyrenopeziza brassicae) causes losses up to £100M pa in UK winter oilseed rape, despite expenditure of £20M on fungicides (http://www.cropmonitor.co.uk/) and substantial losses on vegetable brassica crops. Currently, development of insensitivity to fungicides and breakdown of host resistance to light leaf spot is losing money for growers (increased use of fungicides, need to change to new fungicides and cultivars), HGCA (Recommended List funding wasted if new cultivars break down rapidly) and breeders (loss of cultivars, breeding lines). Management of LLS with resistant cultivars is therefore likely to become more important.  This project will provide new information to improve brassica resistance against the light leaf spot pathogen Pyrenopeziza brassicae to increase yields of oilseed rape whilst decreasing production costs. Its objectives are: 1. To identify variation in UK isolates of the light leaf spot pathogen P. brassicae from oilseed rape and vegetable brassicas. 2. To develop a differential set of B. napus/B. oleracea cultivars to identify races of P. brassicae. 3. To investigate potential spread between oilseed rape (Brassica napus) and vegetable (B. oleracea) brassica crops (and vice versa). 4. To identify sources of resistance in B. napus and B. oleracea for breeders.

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Eligibility and requirements: You should hold at least a BSc Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in Agricultural, Biological or Environmental Science or similar, and have a keen interest in the agriculture and food industry. A valid driving licence is essential. You will need to interact with stakeholders, including ADAS, Trialsforce, Limagrain, Elsoms, the Felix Thornley Trust, HDC and HGCA. Such interactions will include attendance and presentations at industry events attended by growers.

Funding details: This is a 3-year PhD studentship funded by the Felix Thornley Trust, HDC and the University of Hertfordshire, with in kind contributions from industry partners. The studentship will cover UK/EU fees and pay the stipend of £13,726 per year for 3 years, starting from September 2013. Non-EU applicants are advised that they will be required to cover part of the difference between UK/EU and international fees.

How to apply: Eligible applicants are asked to register their interest by e-mailing their CV and a statement regarding their suitability for this PhD studentship to: b.fitt@herts.ac.uk.

Application deadline: 18 April 2013

Further enquiries: For further details of this PhD project or an informal discussion please contact Bruce Fitt or Peter Gladders (peter.gladders@adas.co.uk). For further details about University of Hertfordshire PhD programmes, please contact Viktorija Ziabliceva (v.ziabliceva@herts.ac.uk)

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