PhD Studentship: Discovery of natural products that are critical for controlling plant pathogens

University of East Anglia - Biological Sciences

Start Date: 1st October 2017
No. of positions available: 1
Supervisor: Dr Andrew Truman

Project description:

Plant diseases are a huge problem for many crops, and can cause a vast amount of ecological and economic damage. In many cases, it is difficult to control these diseases as current treatments are ineffective, expensive or environmentally damaging. A promising route to disease control is the use of bacterial biocontrol strains that naturally inhibit pathogen growth, and there is significant evidence to show that bacterial natural products are critical for the suppression of various pathogens. This is consistent with the crucial role that natural products have across medicine (e.g. antibiotics) and agriculture (e.g. insecticides).

This project will investigate a novel family of Pseudomonas natural products that were discovered using a pathogen suppression screen using common scab, an economically important bacterial disease that affects potatoes. These compounds will be structurally characterised, and their bioactivities, regulation and biosynthesis will be determined. The project will also employ our genome-based screening approach to identify natural products that contribute to the suppression of other plant diseases, with the ultimate aim of developing compounds or strains that can be used to control plant disease.

This multidisciplinary project will be based in the laboratories of Dr Andrew Truman and Dr Jake Malone in the Department of Molecular Microbiology at the John Innes Centre, which has world-class facilities for bacterial genetics and natural product biosynthesis. The project provides an exciting opportunity to discover new biologically important molecules that are produced by bacteria. Skills developed in this project will include bacterial genetics, bioinformatics, enzymology, mass spectrometry, NMR and plant pathology.

Person specification: Minimum entry 2:1

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296pa – 2016/7), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

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South East England