REP Project

June 17, 2022

Isolation and identification of insect endosymbionts from agriculturally important pests to investigate endosymbiont roles in host environmental adaptability

Photo of bacteria growing on agar

Location: Rothamsted Research

Duration: 8-10 weeks

With support from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Envision REP scheme, Rothamsted Research would like to recruit an undergraduate student to undertake a 10-week summer internship titled “Identifying cereal killers’ accomplices; investigating endosymbiont roles in host environmental adaptability”.

Insect pests are a major global problem causing significant damage to agricultural and horticultural food production through direct feeding damage to plants and acting as vectors for a variety of plant diseases and pathogens, destroying 20% of global production valued at over $470billion. The insect pests harbour different kinds of bacteria, called endosymbionts, that modulate the interactions between the insects and their environment by improving their nutrition, conferring resistance against natural enemies and modifying their behaviour for specific host selection. By developing an understanding of the interactions between host and their endosymbionts, we will be able to develop novel species-specific crop protection methods that do not rely on the application of indiscriminate chemical pesticides.

In this project, we will focus on the endosymbionts of key UK agricultural insect pests affecting cereal and brassica crops. The successful student will work with wild populations of insect pests from across the UK and isolate and characterise their endosymbiont populations. The student will receive training in DNA extraction and purificationpolymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification, Sanger Sequencing based endosymbiont characterisation and bioinformatic data analysis. The student will be encouraged to contribute to the wider research project with their own ideas.

To apply

We encourage applications from students from all backgrounds. Please check you meet the eligibility criteria before completing the online data collection form; this form is a mandatory part of the application process, but contains ‘prefer not to say’ options for all questions asked.

Once you have completed the online data collection form you will receive an email with the application form and details of how to apply to the supervisor. The application form should be completed and emailed to the lead supervisor along with a reference from your personal tutor.

Successful projects are expected to begin 27th June 2022.

About Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research is a world-leading, non-profit research centre that focuses on strategies in agricultural sciences to the benefit of farmers and society worldwide. We combine leading expertise, outstanding facilities and strategic partnerships to meet agricultural challenges with wide impact. More details can be found at: Rothamsted Research | Global Science, Lasting Benefits.