University of Dundee

BBSRC Eastbio PhD Programme: Developing and applying a high - throughput platform in barley to screen for resistance and enhanced susceptibility to aphids

Aphids are economically important pests globally, and can cause significant yield loss of crops, including barley. Currently there are no commercial barley cultivars that are resistant against aphids, and only limited sources of partial resistance have been reported to date. As a consequence, control of aphids mainly relies on the use of insecticides.  In this project we aim to address the lack of available resistance in cereals to aphids pests by identifying new resistance sources in barley. We will then adopt a genetic approach to gain insights into the molecular basis of observed resistance. The project will build on extensive barley genetics resources (germplasm and genomics) and expertise at the James Hutton Institute. The student will develop a screening platform to facilitate high-throughput assessment of barley populations for resistance to aphids and perform a combination of bi-parental genetic analysis and genome-wide association studies (GWAS). In addition, the screening platform will allow the identification of lines with enhanced susceptibility traits that will be similarly subjected to further characterization to gain novel insights into the basis of susceptibility to aphid pests. The student will receive training in crop genetics, and specifically in population genetics, genomics, quantitative traits, and genetic mapping. In addition, the student will develop skills in aphid behaviour and performance assays using imaging and electrical penetration graph techniques, as well as in molecular plant biology.

The student will be hosted in the groups of Dr. Jorunn Bos (University of Dundee/James Hutton Institute), Prof. Robbie Waugh (University of Dundee/James Hutton Institute), and Dr. Joanne Russell (James Hutton Institute).