Chemometric method development for metabolomic analyses for food security and authentication

Whilst peas are primarily a food commodity in the UK, they are used in Europe as animal feed, replacing increasingly expensive imported soya. The demand for peas, especially by animal feed providers, needs to be met by understanding and overcoming the complications associated with growing such plants. These include severe drought, particularly in Mediterranean countries, as well as infection by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum or “Fusarium Wilt”, stunting growth and eventually leading to plant death. By studying and understanding how these factors affect the growing of leguminous plants, such as peas, it may be possible to identify particular genes or chemicals within the plant’s metabolism that are responsible for resistance to fungal infection and drought. The aim of this project is to analyse data from plants subjected to both drought and Fusarium-infection that have occurred from such experiments, using sophisticated statistical and pattern-recognition techniques. In particular, to combine data obtained from the plant DNA to identify the genes making a plant resistant to drought and disease with data from experiments to identify the chemicals within the plant that provide information on the metabolic pathways involved in resistance. The combination of data from different technologies will require the development of new techniques and the results could lead to the rapid identification of more resilient crop varieties. In the long term, this would not only help with worldwide problem of food security, but also improve sustainability and reduce soya importation in Europe, having a positive effect on the EU economy and the environment. This project will require skills in statistical analysis and programming.

This project is in collaboration with an industrial partner (Fera Science Ltd).

Funding

This studentship is fully-funded for 4 years and covers: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£14,533 for 2017-2018), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. The studentship is available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Closing date: Sunday 18 June 2017

Interview date: Monday 26 June 2017

Start date: October 2017

Potential applicants can seek further information from Dr Julie Wilson

To apply, please complete the application form by clicking on the relevant “Apply now” link here: https://www.york.ac.uk/maths/postgraduate/pg-research-courses/phd-mphil/ , specifying a start date of October 2017 full-time, stating “EPSRC Studentship” as the project titile and naming Dr Wilson as your potential supervisor.