FoodBioSystems DTP - PhD Project Vacancies.
Project Title: DSS4Food - Development of a novel and effective post-harvest decision support system (DSS) for
stored cereals to minimise mould spoilage and mycotoxins in food
Lead Supervisor: Dr. Angel Medina-Vaya, Cranfield University, Cranfield Soil and AgriFood Institute. Applied Mycology Group
UK grain production represents a value of £2 Billion in ex-farm gate value. Post-harvest losses and rejection due to fungal spoilage and mycotoxin contamination often represents between 5-10% of this value, especially in wet harvest years. This has significant impacts on food/feed chains where rejection has occurred. It is thus critical that during grain drying and post-harvest storage, nutritional quality is conserved for down-stream processing. This is important economically for farmers and for the grain
trade and processing industries. The problem is that while there is a significant focus on pre-harvest disease control, post-harvest losses due to fungal spoilage and mycotoxins have received less attention although they can result in rejection and thus significant economic losses. This PhD project is thus going to contribute in the development of a rapid and reliable Decision Support Systems (DSS). This could be effectively utilised as a management tool that will be beneficial for minimising such losses of raw
material quality post-harvest. (further details on the downloadable Pdf below)
The student will receive a range of specific opportunities. At Cranfield, the Applied Mycology Group has a vibrant research activity, that has expertise in fungal ecology, ecophysiology and molecular ecology aswell as predictive modelling skills that will help the student in significantly enhancing their fundamental and applied research expertise. The student will also be able to attend MSc course modules in our Food Systems & Management and Future Food Sustainability courses that will assist in providing excellent
background knowledge on raw material quality assurance, certification, food mycology, molecular plant pathology and ecology, diagnostics and the food security agenda. In addition, Cranfield provides generic PhD student training in project and time management, scientific writing skills, statistics and data management, and presentation skills.
The candidates must have a biological sciences related degree and possibly an MSc in a relevant area, e.g. Agricultural Sciences, Plant Pathology, Crop Protection or Molecular Diagnostics. Needs to have some interest and background in microbiology/mycology, analytical chemistry and molecular biology, or have some experience in biochemistry so that analyses for mycotoxins and the mycobiome analysis can be effectively done. Some interest in interacting with the commercial side of agriculture, especially
in relation to the crop protection industry, would be beneficial.
Project Title: FOODBIOSYSTEMS - Development of different natural biopesticide formulations of plant extracts for control of economically important cereal and grass diseases.
Lead Supervisor: Professor N. Magan, Cranfield University, Cranfield Soil and AgriFood Institute. Applied Mycology Group
Research Group: FOODBIOSYSTEMS BBSRC DTP
Application Deadline: 6th March 2020
Project Description: In todays’ cropping systems, crop protection chemicals are used extensively to maintain crop productivity and reduce pest/disease damage. In recent years, farmers have seen a significant increase in the build-up of resistance in fungal pathogens and pests to synthetic chemicals, especially in economically important export crops, including cereals and fruits. Fungal pathogens evolve quickly and some pathogen genotypes are able to survive fungicide concentrations that normally kill or inhibit the development of sensitive genotypes of the same species. In addition, because of human health and environmental impacts, there is a drive for the use of alternative natural compounds. (further details on the downloadable Pdf below)
Aim: to examine the effect of different formulations of these biopesticides for control of foliar Fusarium diseases of cereals and Drechslera species in fodder grasses and reduction in mycotoxin production, identification of their mechanism of action and their cost-benefit analyses.
Objectives: (a) rapid screening (Bioscreen C) system to identify the efficacy of different formulations of the natural products for control of germination/growth of Fusarium (F. graminearum, F. langsethiae, F. asiaticum, F. verticillioides) and Drechslera species; (b) identification of the best formulations by quantifying using a modelling approach the ED50 and MIC concentrations and make comparisons with existing fungicides; (c) examine the mechanisms of action of the best formulations by vital staining and permeability assays using fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry; (d) quantify relative effects on control of mycotoxin production by impacts on expression of key biosynthetic genes involved in toxin production using RT-qPCR (TRI, FUM genes) and on phenotypic toxin production; (e) testing of the best formulations and concentrations for control of Fusarium in ripening wheat ears and maize cobs, and of Drechslera in seedlings of forage grasses and comparisons with existing fungicides; (f) With the industrial partner examine the cost-benefit analyses for incorporation of such natural compounds into the crop protection system for disease control in cereals/grasses. Some of these also offer protection against cereal pests. This project will have benefits for sustainable and organic cereal and forage grass sectors, and improve pre-harvest management of economically important food/feed crops destined for human and animal feed chains.
Training opportunities: The student will receive a range of specific opportunities. At Cranfield, the Applied Mycology Group is a vibrant research activity, that has expertise in fungal ecology, ecophysiology and molecular ecology as well as predictive modelling skills that will help the student in significantly enhancing their fundamental and applied research expertise.
Student profile: The candidates must have a biological sciences related degree and possibly an MSc in a relevant area, e.g. Agricultural Sciences, Plant Pathology, Crop Protection or Molecular Diagnostics. Needs to have some interest and background in microbiology/mycology and molecular biology, or have some experience in biochemistry so that analyses for mycotoxins can be effectively done. Some interest in interacting with the commercial side of agriculture, especially in relation to the crop protection industry, would be beneficial.