Rothamsted has a long history of successful doctoral training and we have a diverse portfolio of exciting projects for prospective students.
Rothamsted is a partner in four different doctoral training partnerships which have opportunities for studentships starting in 2017. In addition, Industrially-funded studentships, BBSRC CASE studentships and projects supported by levy boards and charities may also be available.
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The University of Nottingham, in collaboration with Rothamsted Research (RRes) and its consortium partners: East Malling Research; Diamond Light Source; Research Complex at Harwell; Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) National Industrial Biotechnology Facility; and Crops for the Future Research Centre in Malaysia, have devised an integrated four-year Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) that provides PhD students with a world-class training programme in Biotechnology and Biological Sciences. Further details on this DTP can be found here.
BBSRC awards are only available to UK and EU/EEA candidates (though note that some awards are only available to EU nationals on a fees-only basis). Note that you may not be a UK or EU/EEA national but may still meet the residence criteria as an EU/EEA candidate or a ‘Home student’.
Monitoring and surveillance of pest species is fundamental to control their populations and reduce the damage they inflict on crops. To develop efficient surveillance schemes, it is important to understand migration patterns. Studying the migration and dispersal of small insects can be problematic due to the difficulty of tracking individuals. However, phylogeographic and population genetics tools provide information about the connectivity of populations across different geographic ranges, which can be used to infer the migration patterns of species. This project provides an exciting opportunity to test the application of these evolutionary concepts to improve the surveillance and control of a particular aphid of agricultural relevance.
Getting to the roots of black-grass control: Crop-weed allelopathic interactions in Alopecurus myosuroides
Alopecurus myosuroides (black-grass) is a major threat to UK crop production. The evolution of resistance to herbicides in black-grass means there is an urgent need to develop novel control strategies. There is much interest in the potential for allelopathic interactions (the production of biologically active compounds by plants to inhibit growth of their competitors) to provide novel solutions for black-grass control. You will work with an interdisciplinary team to explore plant ecological and evolutionary interactions, chemical ecology and soil ecology. You will develop skills in plant, chemical and soil ecology underpinned by modern approaches in quantitative biology, analytical chemistry and soil metagenomics. You will develop fundamental scientific knowledge about basic ecological interactions, applying this knowledge to one of the most pressing issues in UK crop production. You will have the opportunity to work with one of the UK’s leading farm management consulting companies to realise the potential of your findings in agronomic field trials.
When the chips are down: Exploiting genetic diversity in root phenotypes to overcome soil constraints to potato yields
Potato yields are frequently constrained by strong soil (due to natural and man-made increases in soil strength with depth) which limits root growth. Considerable genetic diversity exists in potato root traits, but it is uncertain whether this can be exploited to overcome yield-limitations due to strong soils. Interactions of roots with the soil environment alter root-to-shoot signalling, which affects canopy dynamics and carbon gain.
To determine whether controlled environment root phenotyping identifies root traits that can explain variation in crop yields on farm, a genetically diverse group of potato genotypes (identified in consultation with the industrial partner Branston Ltd) will be grown in controlled environments to determine root responses to changes in soil strength. Moreover, the importance of different root classes in determining root-to-shoot signalling will be investigated. Genotypes will be selected to assay field performance in trials conducted by Branston. You will spend two growing seasons on site with Branston.
The use of cover and catch crops is becoming more common place in UK agriculture. There are many potential benefits of such practices including prevention of soil erosion and leaching of nitrate, improvement of infiltration and adding carbon to the soil. Cover crops have the potential to promote a range of ecosystem services, however, at present there has been very little investigation of which crops do this best. Cover and catch crops must display specific traits to be of benefit to the grower in different rotational positions and thereby justify seed and planting costs; compatibility with cash crops, strong root penetration, growth in low temperature and light conditions and zero seed return. This project will work towards providing an evidence base for growers to make decisions on which cover crops to use.