STUDENTSHIP

INVESTIGATING FUNGAL PATHOGEN EFFECTOR LOCALISATION WITHIN PLANT CELLS

PROJECT SUMMARY

AREA OF SCIENCE:

Plant pathology and fungicide resistance

DURATION:

4 Years

CLOSING DATE/TIME:

Monday, December 5, 2022 - 00:00

DEPARTMENT:

HOST UNIVERSITY:

University of Bath

MORE DETAILS:

Science Department: Protecting Crops and the Environment

STUDENTSHIP DETAIL

Ensuring global food security for the ever‐growing world’s population is a major concern. Fungal pathogens destroy a substantial amount of all food crops each year (~15%). Cereal head blight diseases of wheat caused by various Fusarium fungi are particularly serious (Dean et al., 2012). These pathogens secrete effector proteins that manipulate the host to promote infection. Some effectors were predicted to enter host organelles using software tools that search for sequence signatures associated with subcellular targeting. However, these prediction might not be accurate as only for a few fungal effectors has their subcellular localisation been validated. Robust predictions are required to identify virulence changes in the pathogen population associated with differences in effector host subcellular localisation. We will use multiple software tools to perform an in‐silico meta‐analytic prediction of the secretome of multiple Fusarium graminearum strains and identify effectors likely to have host subcellular localisation before validating these predictions in the laboratory using in planta expression and confocal microscopy. Validated localisation data will be used to improve the accuracy of prediction tools. Then the plant protein targets from some effectors will be identified by co‐immunoprecipitation or proximity labelling followed by mass spectrometry. Plant targets identification will allow the elucidation of effector function(s). This new knowledge will permit the student and the advisory team to devise new F. graminearum control strategies.


The project is multidisciplinary with strong mathematical, computational biology and imaging components. The student will spend the first six months at Rothamsted Research (RRes) undertaking initial research training in bioinformatics, cloning techniques, bioimaging and specific taught courses. Subsequently, the student will transfer to the University for a further research training period, before returning to RRes for the remainder of the PhD project. The University of Bath will be involved and will provide training in genomic approaches and analyses. The advisory team includes Drs Nützmann (lead University supervisor) and Brown (2nd University supervisor) and at RRes Drs Darino, Smith and Urban and Prof. Hammond‐Kosack (main supervisor). The student will have access to world class research facilities and will receive outstanding interdisciplinary training from their advisory team. The student will also receive training in how to give oral/poster presentations at laboratory meetings, workshops, national/international conferences, write a scientific paper for peer review and will take part in suitable public outreach events, for example The British Festival of Science.


Sperschneider (2017) Scientific Reports 7: 1‐14. Dean (2012) Molecular Plant Pathology 13: 414‐430.

Our aim as the SWBio DTP is to support students from a range of backgrounds and circumstances. Where needed, we will work with you to take into consideration reasonable project adaptations (for example to support caring responsibilities, disabilities, other significant personal circumstances) as well as flexible working and part‐time study requests, to enable greater access to a PhD. All our supervisors support us with this aim, so please feel comfortable in discussing further with the listed PhD project supervisor to see what is feasible.

To be eligible for a fully-funded studentship, you must meet the below academic and residence criteria.


Academic criteria

Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a Master’s degree or have significant relevant research or non-academic experience.

In addition, due to the strong mathematical component of the taught course in the first year and the quantitative emphasis in our projects,  quantitative/mathematical experience is needed.  This can be demonstrated through one or more of the following:

  • Undertaking units as part of your degree that have a significant quantitative/mathematical component*
  • Maths or Physics A-level (grade B and above)

*Significant mathematical component examples include; maths, statistics, bioinformatics.

Applicants must ensure they highlight their quantitative/mathematical background within their application and to upload any supporting evidence.

To support accessibility to PhD training opportunities, these studentships are only available to applicants that have not previously obtained or about to obtain a PhD degree (or equivalent).


Language requirements

If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum English requirements for the programme.  Further information about these English requirements >>

We ask that the language requirements are met by 1st June at the latest, to allow adequate time to obtain any necessary documentation to allow you to study in the UK.  Further information about documentation required >>


Residence criteria

IMPORTANT: Residency requirements are complex and too detailed to capture in full below.  So please read alongside guidance provided on the GOV.UK website and UKCISA website to ensure you meet the criteria.  

Home students

Fully-funded studentships are available for Home students.  To be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirement) or,
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

International students

Please note: studentships that are currently being advertised (application deadline: 28th June 2022) are only available to applicants that meet the home student criteria.

If you do not meet the above criteria, you will be classed as an International student.

A limited number (up to 30%) of UKRI fully-funded studentships are available through the SWBio DTP, that applicants who would be classed as an International student are eligible for.  Please apply through our normal application route.

Note: A UKRI fully-funded studentship will only cover what is listed under the ‘UKRI-BBSRC funded studentship‘ section.  However there may be other costs that you may encounter and need to take into consideration which will not be covered by the studentship. For example, visa fees, healthcare surcharge, relocation costs and COVID-19 related quarantine costs.

UKRI-BBSRC funded studentship

A fully-funded four year SWBio DTP studentship will cover:

 - a stipend* (at the standard UKRI rate; £16,062 per annum for 2022-2023)

  •  - research and training costs
  •  - tuition fees **
  •   dditional funds to support fieldwork, conferences and a 3-month placement

A limited number (up to 30%) of UKRI fully-funded studentships are available through the SWBio DTP, that applicants who would be classed as an International student are eligible for.  Further information about residence criteria >>

* An enhanced stipend is available for students with a recognised veterinary degree qualification (£24,090 per annum for 2021-2022). There may also be enhanced stipends associated with projects that have a CASE partner (CASE projects are highlighted as *CASE in the project lists).

** International students will not be required to cover the difference between home and international tuition fees.


Further funding information

Your PhD stipend:

Your student status:


Considerations for international students

A UKRI fully-funded studentship will only cover what is listed under the ‘UKRI-BBSRC funded studentship’ section.  However there may be other costs that you may encounter and need to take into consideration which will not be covered by the studentship or via the institution. For example, visa fees, healthcare surcharge, relocation costs and COVID-19 related quarantine costs.


Funding information for external-funded applicants >>

Apply to Bath >>

Application guidance:

  •  - When completing the online application form, please identify your application as being for the SWBio DTP call in Section 3 Finance (question 2).
  •  - Should you wish to apply for more than one project at Bath, you may do so without submitting a separate application but you should state all the projects for which you would like to be considered in the ‘Your research interests’ section of the application form and you should upload a separate statement for each one, outlining your motivation, achievements and suitability for that particular project.
  •  - Part-time study is available through the University of Bath, even though the application form available is for a full-time programme.  You will just need to indicate part-time within the 'Your research interests' section of the application form.
  • Further guidance and support related to your application >>

About the University of Bath >>