Manipulating resource flow between parasites and mutualists of crop plants

FUNDING: 10 weeks (full time, 37 hrs per week, £12 per hour, £850 consumables, £500 student accommodation bursary)
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Willow Maxwell, Biology, Leeds

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Plant-parasitic nematodes and mutualistic fungi both rely upon the host plant for the entirety of their resource intake, dictating their success as well as host growth and yield. Our ability to understand host mechanisms by which plants can differentiate between friend and foe and allocate their resources accordingly is key in maximising food production. My role as technician within the Plant Nematology Group in Leeds is to determine the impact of knocking out genes that may underlie resource flow to plant-parasitic nematodes and mycorrhizal fungi. The aim of this project is to determine whether we can selectively restrict resource flow to detrimental symbionts whilst maintaining flow to those symbionts that impart a benefit to the plant. The student will be fully integrated into the Plant Nematology Group so that they get a true taste of the research environment. They will gain experience in a range of molecular techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas9, qPCR, and tissue culture. The student will work with both animals and plants, providing a wide range of transferable skills and if desired, there is the opportunity to utilise bioinformatics to determine novel target genes, with the work package being tailored to the student. Students will be expected to present their findings orally at a research day in York in September 2024.