Dr. Chris Bell, Centre for Plant Science, Leeds
Plant-parasitic nematodes are pathogens that avoid plant defences to cause billions of dollars of crop losses to agriculture throughout the world. Sugars Will Eventually be ExporTed (SWEET) genes are known to be important in the movement of carbohydrates in plants and animals. This project will be the first to characterise the SWEET gene family in these damaging nematode pests and will provide insights into how they aid their parasitism. The experiments will centre on molecular studies to characterise when and where in the nematode these genes are expressed, as well as which specific sugars they transport. The student will gain experience in a wide range of molecular techniques (in situ hybridisation, qPCR, and RNAi to knock-down). They will also be exposed to skills in bioinformatics (RNA sequencing analysis), tissue culture, and plant work. The student will be fully integrated into the Plant Nematology Group so that they get a true taste of the research environment. Students will be expected to present their findings orally at a research day in York in September 2023.