PhD studentship: Identifying virulence factors in two highly pathogenic aquatic Aphanomyces species - causative agents of crayfish plague and epizootic ulcerative syndrome Ref: 1168
About the award
Applications are invited for a funded PhD studentship in Biosciences at the University of Exeter. This studentship will be funded by the College of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas). Successful applicants will be based within Biosciences, principally at the Streatham Campus, Exeter, at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science Environment, Fisheries, Weymouth.
Supervisors: Exeter supervisors: Mark van der Giezen and David Studholme. Cefas supervisor: Birgit Oidtmann.
The genus Aphanomyces is responsible for two OIE notifiable diseases in animals: crayfish plague and epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS). Crayfish plague is a devastating and fatal disease of freshwater crayfish species and is responsible for the decline of native crayfish throughout the whole of Europe. It currently threatens to wipe out the white-clawed crayfish, the UK’s only native species, which is now on the IUCN list of threatened species 2012. The causative agent is the oomycete protozoan Aphanomyces astaci, which arrived in Europe in the late 19th century via the introduction of North American crayfish, which can carry the disease without displaying any disease symptoms. EUS in fish is caused by another Aphanomyces species: A. invadans. This parasite has led to large fish mortalities in Asia, Australia and more recently Africa, with substantial economic impact for the affected areas. There is a real danger that A. invadans will be introduced to the UK through the ornamental fish trade. As A. invadans is an aquatic pathogen that can infect most, if not all, fish species, the consequences for fish in the UK could be devastating.
Despite their importance, very little is known about pathogenicity mechanisms and virulence factors. As A. astaci causes a fatal disease in European crayfish but not in North American species, host-specific factors are expected to play an important role in the disease mechanism. Oomycetes such as Aphanomyces are among the most important groups of disease-causing organisms in both agriculture and aquaculture and thus represent a threat for global food security and biodiversity. There are currently no control treatments or control measures available for these pathogens.
The aim of this project is to begin to understand the biology of the causative agents of crayfish plague (A. astaci) and EUS (A. invadans), using genomics and transcriptomics. The aim of the PhD is identify and analyse putative virulence factors and host-specificity factors. Bioinformatics methods will be used to analyse nucleotide sequence data generated with state-of-the-art ‘next-generation’ sequencing methods and there will be the opportunity to develop new computational tools to identify and compare virulence factors between Aphanomyces species and other oomycetes.
This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees, a stipend, payment for 110 hours of work (teaching-related activities) and a contribution towards research costs. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus £13,726 per year (covering stipend and work payment). Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for 110 hours of work and part of the international tuition fee. Studentships will be awarded on the basis of merit and are awarded for three years of full-time study (part-time pro-rata).
Entry requirements: You must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in Biological Sciences, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant subject. We seek an adaptable scientist with a combined aptitude for laboratory-based study and bioinformatics analyses. Specific experience in molecular biology and bioinformatics is preferred.
Informal enquiries can be made directly to Dr. Mark van der Giezen (email@example.com) and Dr. Birgit Oidtmann (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The closing date for applications is midnight on Monday 11th March 2013.
|Application deadline:||11th March 2013|
|Number of awards:||1|
|Value:||~£13,726 plus UK/EU tuition fees for eligible students|
|Duration of award:||per year|
|Contact: CLES Postgraduate Research Teamemail@example.com|
How to apply
- Covering letter (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
- Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
- 2 references (if your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email email@example.com or phone +44 (0)1392 725150/723706/723310.