I would like to advertise two PhD projects in my group at the Cornwall Campus of the University of Exeter – both are under competitive funding via Doctoral Training Centers, i.e. only the best student/project combinations will be funded in the end. Both projects will give full funding to UK residents if successful. For the NERC project only (« pollinator plagues”), there is potentially the option to obtain full funding for EU students as well (please see eligibility criteria). If funded, the BBSRC project will be focusing on microbiology, using bees as an in vivo system.

1. BBSRC SWBio DTP PhD studentship: Bees, bugs and antibiotics – the interactions of agricultural and veterinary antibiotics with bee health Ref: 1969, supervised by Lena Wilfert, Will Gaze and Ed Feil (Bath)
Deadline: 1st December 2015
For more information and to apply: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/award/?id=1969
The pollination services provided by bumblebees and honeybees are crucial for agricultural sustainability. In recent years, it has become clear that the gut microbiome plays a crucial role in bee health. In fact, the resistance against Critihidia bombi, a key parasite of bumblebees, and the strong genotype-genotype interactions with its host are predominantly explained by the gut biome rather than by the host itself (Koch et al Ecology Letters 2012, Wilfert et al. Molecular Ecology 2007). Antibiotics can disrupt this interaction and cause fitness loss (Koch et al. PNAS 2011). Environmental exposure to antibiotics is a potentially serious problem in bees: antibiotic sprays are used while crops are in flower and prophylactic antibiotic treatment of honeybees is widespread in North America, which has led to the evolution of AMR. Studying the interactions of pollinators, pathogens and antibiotics is thus crucial for a sustainable future.
In this PhD, you will be able to study fundamental evolutionary ecology, for example testing the effect of stress on community stability, while directly addressing questions around pollinator health. You will be supervised by a team of experts in evolutionary ecology, pollinators, microbial communities and experimental evolution at the University of Exeter (Dr. Lena Wilfert, Dr. Will Gaze, Prof. Juliet Osborne, Prof. Angus Buckling) and the University of Bath (Prof. Ed Feil); you will be primarily based at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus. You will receive training in experimental ecology and microbiology, bioinformatics and mathematical modelling. For informal enquiries, please contact Lena Wilfert ([email protected]).

2. NERC (GW4+ DTP): Pollinator plagues: the evolutionary ecology of shared infectious diseases in pollinator communities, Ref 1953; supervised by Lena Wilfert, Juliet Osborne, Claire Carvell (CEH_ and Mark Brown (Royal Holloway)
Deadline: 8th of January 2016
For more information and to apply: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/award/?id=1951

Honeybees and bumblebees are key pollinators of wild and agricultural flowering plants. Recently, it has become clear that these insects not only overlap in their ecology, but also share many infectious diseases (Manley et al. 2015, Fuerst et al. 2014). This makes pollinators an excellent ecological model system for emerging diseases, but also potentially impacts how pollinators have to be managed and conserved. In this project, you will be able to study the ecological and evolutionary risk factors driving disease emergence and spread, as well as their impacts on pollinator communities at an ecological and evolutionary level. You will be part of a large collaborative research project studying the impacts of agri-environment schemes, designed to improve agricultural landscapes for pollinators, on emerging diseases in pollinators.

In this PhD, you will be trained in experimental ecology in the field and the lab and gain skills in molecular ecology, population genetics and phylogenetics. With your PhD, you will be able to address both fundamental questions on the evolutionary ecology of multi-host pathogen interactions, as well on the applied impacts of these interactions and how they can be mitigated. You will primarily based at the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus, but also spend time at NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in Oxfordshire. You will be supervised by a team of experts in emerging diseases and pollinator ecology at the University of Exeter (Dr. Lena Wilfert, Prof. Juliet Osborne), CEH (Dr. Claire Carvell) and Royal Holloway University (Prof. Mark Brown). For informal enquiries, please contact Dr. Lena Wilfert ([email protected]).

many thanks

Dr. Lena Bayer-Wilfert
Senior Lecturer in Molecular Evolution
Centre for Ecology & Conservation
Biosciences, College of Life & Environmental Sciences
University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, TR10 9FE UK

Phone: +44 (0) 1326370723
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://biosciences.exeter.ac.uk/staff/index.php?web_id=Lena_Wilfert

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