Starting date and duration: 6 month from March 2018

Background: The common sow thistle, Sonchus oleraceus L., is a weed native to Europe but invasive in Australia. In response to the development of herbicide resistance, CSIRO (Australia) has recently developed a collaborative research program with Montpellier SupAgro (France) to develop biological control solutions for this species in Australia. As a complement to traditional approaches in classical biocontrol, a PhD is carried out and aims at characterizing trophic interactions inherent to the arthropod community associated with S. oleraceus. The research questions raised focus on 1) the composition of herbivore community interacting with the plant, 2) the specificity of these herbivores, 3) the regulation of these herbivores by their own natural enemies, and 4) the comparison of food web structure between the native and invaded range. Trophic network construction relies on cutting-edge technologies (i.e. NGS and metabarcoding) to reveal interactions from arthropod gut-content. By developing this community approach, we expect better understand the complexity of species interactions to improve risk assessment in classical biological control.

Keywords: Sonchus oleraceus L., Common sow thistle, weed biocontrol, trophic networks, molecular analysis

This internship follows a first step of reference barcode database construction (composed of plants and arthropods) and will focus on sampling, identification and characterization of the trophic interactions between S. oleraceus and the community of arthropods within its native range, in order to select suitable biocontrol agent(s).

Missions:
The trainee recruited will collaborate with the PhD student and work on three main activities:
– Field sampling of arthropods within native range (Montpellier and its surroundings) using various types of traps (mouth aspirator, forceps, plant dissection…)
– Molecular data acquisition thank to metabarcoding on arthropod gut-content (preceded by molecular laboratory tests such as “feeding trial”)
– Trophic network analyses and reconstruction

Student profile:
– M1 (“césure”) or M2 university course or engineering school in biology/agronomy
– Fluent in French and English
– Interest for field work, entomology, molecular analysis (DNA extraction, PCR, …)
– Meticulousness and rigor
– Computer skills for data analysis with R and sequence treatment software
– Knowledge and interest for the development of biological control strategies

Location:
The trainee will be settled at CBGP laboratory on Baillarguet campus (Montferrier-sur-Lez)
He will be supervised by Jean-François Martin (Teacher-Researcher Montpellier SupAgro) and Mélodie Ollivier (PhD student).
Gratification of 554,40 € maximum per months according the number of working day in the month.

Application:
Resume and cover letter by email to
Jean-François Martin, [email protected]
Mélodie Ollivier, [email protected], 06 68 27 77 69

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