PhD Studentship: Protecting our bread wheat against Septoria with disease resistance genes from wild relatives (WULFF_J17DTP)

University of East Anglia

School of: Biological Sciences
Start Date:  1st October 2017
No. of positions available: 1
Supervisor: Dr Brande Wulff

Project description:

The wild ancestors of domesticated wheat represent an extraordinarily diverse source of genetic variation for improving disease resistance in wheat. Identification and manipulation of key genes underpinning this variation will help to sustainably increase yields and secure global food security.

In recent years the Septoria fungus has emerged as a major pathogen of wheat in many wheat growing regions across the world. Septoria is controlled by a combination of genetic resistance and fungicides. However, the fungus has evolved insensitivity to all three major classes of fungicide, and, as a result, some countries are on the verge of abandoning bread wheat cultivation altogether.

This PhD project will employ laboratory pathology experiments, field trials, molecular genetics and bioinformatics to characterise a suite of wheat lines containing whole chromosomes transferred from wild relatives of wheat into domesticated wheat, imparting (near-)complete immunity to Septoria. State-of-the-art enabling tools, including mutational genomics and high-throughput sequence-complexity reduction [1], will be used to clone a key Septoria resistance gene. Our overarching long-term objective is to understand the genetic basis of Septoria immunity in wild wheat and engineer this resistance into cultivated bread wheat.

The PhD project will be jointly supervised by Brande Wulff and James Brown at the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park.

[1] Steuernagel […] & Wulff (2016). Rapid cloning of disease-resistance genes in plants using mutagenesis and sequence capture, Nature Biotechnology 34:652-5.

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