UK: PhD Studentship in Biological Sciences at University of Reading

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Project Overview:   

The classical fungal model of clock genetics Neurospora crassa is in the same phylogentic class as many economically important plant pathogens, such as rice blast (Magnaporthe grisea), strawberry wilt (Verticillium dahliae) and various Fusarium species.  Functional clock genes can be identified in these pathogens, however their role in pathogenicity is currently unclear. Plants exhibit differential immunity to disease dependent on the time of day that they are challenged. At the molecular level some pathogen-induced genes are known to have diurnal expression patterns, and recently defence genes have been shown to be under the direct regulation of a central clock gene in Arabidopsis1. This indicates that plants have variable resistance levels to pathogens throughout the day. The evolution of a clock-linked immune system suggests that pathogens may also time aspects of host challenge, such as spore release and ascospore germination. This feat is likely to require a functional circadian clock, intimately linked to that of the host, integrating the same environmental signals in order to optimise infection.

This project aims to identify components of a molecular clock within the fungal root pathogen of strawberry,Verticillium dahliae, firstly by searching for homologs to the known clock components of, Neurospora crassa and secondly by gene expression studies throughout the course of infection to identify diurnally expressed genes and characterize their function.

The studentship is jointly funded by East Malling Research and the University of Reading. The student will be primarily based at EMR, Kent, but will have the opportunity to spend time at Reading and benefit from training in a laboratory with different expertise.

The student will be primarily based at EMR, Kent but will have the opportunity to spend time at Reading and benefit from training in a laboratory with different expertise. 

Eligibility: 

  • We are seeking a highly motivated student with a background in Biology, or a suitably numerate discipline (e.g. computer science, applied maths or physics). Programming experience is desirable but not essential. A honours degree of  class 2.1 or greater is essential
  • Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is only open to candidates from the UK/EU.

Funding Details:

Three year programme from October 2014 covering fees and stipend.

How to apply:   

To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a PhD in Biological Sciences  athttp://www.reading.ac.uk/graduateschool/prospectivestudents/gs-how-to-apply.aspx.

*Important note* Please quote the reference GS14-19 in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application.

Application Deadline:  14th March 2014

Further Enquiries: 

Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria.

For further details please contact Dr Louise Johnson, l.j.johnson@reading.ac.uk

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