Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

Studentships - Vacancies

Studentships vacancies

  • Phylogeography and management of the aphid pest Nasonovia ribisnigri in commercial lettuce crops

    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.

  • Adding evidence to decision making regarding cover and catch crops

    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.

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