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Developing genetic control methods for the silverleaf whitefly.
PhD : 4 year Project (HOGENHOUT_J15ICASE)
Project Start Date: 01 Oct 2015
Supervisors: Saskia Hogenhout (John Innes Centre) & Neil Morrison (Oxitec Ltd)
The silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, is a species complex comprising several biotypes/cryptic species. It has over 500 host plants, to which damage is caused by the adult flies feeding, but they also vector a range of plant viruses. Control of the whitefly is principally by insecticide spraying, which can be of limited effectiveness as the pest develops resistance, and chemical modes-of-action or withdrawn from use.
This project will seek to develop genetic tools for new management strategies against this pest. Current genetic control approaches involve development of transgenic strains showing a self-limiting trait. For instance, engineered genetic sexing allows the production of male-only cohorts, which after release in the field will mate with wild counterparts, producing no female adult progeny and thereby reducing the pest population. This approach relies on mating, so is therefore highly species-specific with a low ecological impact. A transgenic self-limiting strain of the dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti, has been used to successfully control wild populations of the mosquito, and similar fruit fly and lepidopteran strains are nearing field trial testing. With the technology developed in Diptera and Lepidoptera, we are seeking to apply a similar approach to management of whitefly (a hemipteran).
Working with Bemisia tabaci, the student will develop transformation methods and test construct components. The project will require investigation by molecular biology and bioinformatics to identify, characterize and clone whitefly regulatory sequences of interest for engineering new genetic pest management traits. At project end, we propose to have established the genetic toolkit and methods that will enable the development of new genetic methods of controlling this pest, and other Hemiptera.
The successful applicant will be based at the John Innes Centre (University of East Anglia) and Oxitec, which is located in Milton Park, Oxfordshire.
This 4-year BBSRC funded CASE studentship 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 guide which can be found below. In most cases UK and EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the course are eligible for a full-award. Other EU nationals may qualify for a fees only award. Below is the link to the BBSRC PhD studentship eligibility guidelines which all candidates should check to confirm their eligibility for funding. The stipend for 2015/6 is £14,057 per annum, with an additional contribution from the industrial partner.
For full details on eligibility (qualifications and residence criteria) see the BBSRC Guide to Studentship Eligibility: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf
This studentship is open for application. For further information and an application form, please visit the How to Apply page on our website: http://students.jic.ac.uk/current-opportunities/how-to-apply/
For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for Applications: 10 Apr 2015
If you’d like to submit a speculative application please send a CV and cover letter to email@example.com.