Fully Funded Studentship Specificity and adaptation in plant pathogen/host interactions (BANFIELD_J14DTP)



Deadline:  29 November 2013. Available from 1 October 2014. 

Supervisor: Dr Mark Banfield

[email protected]

The Project:

Infection of crop plants by pathogens frequently leads to losses in yield with resultant socio-economic consequences for food supply. In modern agriculture, strategies for controlling eukaryotic plant pathogens (such as fungi and oomycetes) include repeated application of expensive and potentially harmful chemical agents (fungicides). One route to alternative control measures against devastating plant pathogens, such as the agent of the Irish potato famine (Phytophthora infestans), is a fundamental understanding of how these parasites cause disease. Such understanding is important to enable new ways of interfering with disease processes.

The ability of plant pathogens to suppress the innate immune response of their hosts, or otherwise manipulate host cell processes, is important for the success of infection/propagation. P. infestans, which causes late-blight of potato (and tomato), secretes ‘effector’ proteins that are translocated into the host cell where they engage with host cell targets.

We have recently identified a family of translocated effector proteins from P. infestans that we hypothesise interact with components of host cell signalling cascades involved in the plant’s immune response to pathogens. This project aims to identify then dissect the interactions of these effector proteins with host-cell targets and to explore the specific roles of these targets in plant cell physiology, i.e. why has the pathogen evolved effectors to specifically interact with these targets? Ultimately, such knowledge may establish novel approaches for disease control. The project is multi-disciplinary and will combine molecular biology, protein production and characterisation in vitro (including studies of protein:protein interactions and structural biology), with in vivo work using model plant systems. Training in all the necessary experimental techniques will be available within a stimulating research environment.

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Entry Requirements:

2:1 or 2:2 plus Masters. English Language – IELTS 6.5 overall with 6 in each category. 

Funding:
Funding for PhD studentships from BBSRC is available to successful candidates who meet the UK Research Council eligibility criteria including the 3-year UK residency requirements. These requirements are detailed in the BBSRC eligibility guidelines:

http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf. All candidates should check to confirm their eligibility for funding.

The current stipend for 2013/14 is £13,726 per annum.

Making Your Application:

For further information and to apply, please visit the ‘How to Apply’ page on our website: http://biodtp.norwichresearchpark.ac.uk/how-to-apply

Additional Information:

In keeping with the postgraduate training policy of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) all students recruited onto this programme will be required to undertake a three months internship during the second or third year of their study. The internship will offer exciting and invaluable experience of work in an area outside of research, and full support and advice will be provided by a professional team from the UEA.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) – a collaboration between the Norwich Biosciences Institutes and the University of East Anglia. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the Studentship Competition. The interview dates will be the 14th and 15th January 2014.

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