Lead Supervisor: Dr Gonçalo D R Silva
Closing date for applications: midnight UTC on 15 August 2019
Badnaviruses are a highly diverse group of plant DNA viruses and have emerged as serious pathogens infecting a wide range of economically important tropical and temperate crop plants worldwide. Furthermore, DNA of some badnavirus species can be found hidden (‘integrated’) in the host plant genome further complicating the detection of true (episomal) virus. This PhD project aims to study diseases caused by globally emerging badnaviruses in a range of agricultural crops (yam, cocoa and grapevine) associated with different environmental contexts.
Using high-throughput sequencing (HTS) approaches this project will determine the full extent of virus diversity in each crop. This will help 1) developing and optimizing fool-proof diagnostic methods, 2) to detect and distinguish between true virus infections and integrated badnaviruses and 3) studying recombination (i.e. the ability to generate new virus variants) in badnaviruses present in each crop that could lead to the evolution of strains of altered virulence. HTS analysis will also be used to understand the impact of specific environmental conditions associated with climate change on badnavirus infections.
The prospective student should be willing to do field sample collection in the UK and Africa.
Research activities will be supported by a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation project granted to NRI.
Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview in person or via Skype video conference.
Find additional information about the scholarship and how to apply here.