Biosciences: Fully Funded Rothamsted / Swansea (BBSRC SWBio DTP) PhD Scholarship

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 30 March 2020

Fully Funded Rothamsted / Swansea (BBSRC SWBio DTP) PhD Studentship: Mass spectroscopy imaging of plant-fungi interactions: understanding symbiosis for sustainable crop production
This studentship is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) as part of the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP).
Subject areas: Plant developmental genetics, Biology
A major limitation to plant growth is restricted access to nutrients in the soil. To improve nutrient acquisition, most land plants enter a symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. In return for mineral nutrients, the plants provide fixed carbon to the obligate biotrophic fungi. This nutrient exchange takes place through highly branched hyphal structures called ‚Äėarbuscules‚Äô that form in the inner cortical cells of the root. Until recently, AM fungi were thought to receive carbon from their host plants solely in the form of sugars. However, this paradigm changed when work from Rothamsted Research showed that plants supply AM fungi with most of their carbon in the form of lipids (Luginbuehl et al., \[2017\] Science 356, 1175). The aim of this project is to understand how plants supply lipids to AM fungi, what type of lipids they use and how this process is regulated. To do this we will combine plant molecular genetic approaches with high spatial-resolution mass spectrometry imaging (MSI), using state-of-the-art MSI instrumentation at Swansea University. MSI has not been used previously to study AM symbiosis, but this technique has the power to measure the lipid composition of individual root cells harbouring arbuscules. This work will provide foundation knowledge of nutrient exchange in AM symbiosis that can inform new approaches to achieve more sustainable crop production.
We want to support diverse and inclusive work environments. We therefore welcome applications from individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, or disability status. We welcome applications from individuals who have previously studied at any recognised Higher Education Institute and from a range of career paths (please refer to the SWBio DTP academic criteria for eligibility), including individuals who have previously trained in the sciences and are wanting to return to scientific research.
Swansea University
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Swansea University

Swansea, is a coastal city and county, officially known as the City and County of Swansea in Wales.

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Academic criteria
Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a Master’s degree or have significant relevant non-academic experience.
In addition, due to the strong mathematical component of the taught course in the first year and the quantitative emphasis in our projects, a minimum of a grade B in A-level Maths or an equivalent qualification or experience is required.
Equivalent qualifications/experience
Physics A-level (grade B and above). Undertaking units as part of your degree that have a significant mathematical component (significant mathematical component examples include; maths, statistics, bioinformatics).
Applicants must ensure they highlight their Maths background within their application and to upload any supporting evidence.
Residence criteria
Funding is available to UK and EU nationals who have established UK residency (EU nationals must have ordinarily lived in the UK throughout the three years preceding the start of the studentship). Applicants from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.


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A fully funded four-year SWBio DTP studentship will cover:

  • a stipend (at the standard UKRI rate; ¬£15,009 per annum for 2019-2020)
  • research and training costs
  • UK/EU tuition fees (at the standard UKRI rate)
  • additional funds to support fieldwork, conferences and a 3-month internship


Please visit our website for more information.

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