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Supervisor: Dr Sebastian Eves-van den Akker


Plant-parasitic nematodes threaten global food security. With at least one species able to parasitise every major food crop, they are estimated to cause over $100 billion in crop losses each year. The demand for new control strategies in line with the EU’s sustainability goals highlights significant knowledge gaps – we need to know more about how they cause disease in order to stop them. Like all other plant-interacting organisms, nematodes deliver hundreds of effectors into the host plant to cause disease. This project aims to block the action of large subsets of effectors by blocking the “master regulators” at their source. We have identified two such transcriptional master regulators that form the basis of this PhD.

Objectives and Approaches 

1) Determine the nature, identity, and dispensability of plant-signals that activate each regulator using a combination of HPLC-MS, CRISPR-Cas, and bioassays. 
2) Determine how these signals are recognised in the parasite using competition assays, RNA interference, and genetics. 
3) Determine how these master regulators carry out their function using yeast 1 hybrid and chemical genetic approaches.


No prior experience is required. The successful candidate will receive hands-on training in all required techniques and approaches by experienced members of the group and have unlimited access to training courses provided by the University of Cambridge. 


Application & Eligibility 

Contact Dr Sebastian Eves-van den for an informal discussion on the research content of this PhD. 
Beginning in October 2022, the successful candidate should have (or expect to have) an Honours Degree (or equivalent) with a minimum of 2.1 in Plant Science, or other related science subjects. Students with an appropriate Masters degree are particularly encouraged to apply.
We welcome UK, EU, and international applicants. Candidates whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. Candidates should check the requirements for each host organization they are applying to, but IELTS 6.5 for Reading, 7.0 for all other categories is the minimum standard. Further details are available here.
This studentship is for four years and is fully funded in line with UKRI-BBSRC standard rates. These are:
An annual maintenance stipend of £15,609, fee support of £4500, a research training support grant of £5,000 and conference and UK fieldwork expenses of £230. Home tuition fee support (to a maximum of £4500) applies to all applicants regardless of nationality.
To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have settled status, or
• Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have indefinite leave to remain or enter
If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an international student and must demonstrate the ability to meet the supplement in fees required for an international student.
Anyone interested should complete the online application form before the deadline of 6th January 2022. Interviews will be held during February 2022.
Please contact for further application details.