Bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food

Applications for projects starting in September 2024 have now closed.
For fully funded studentships starting in September 2025, projects will be advertised in October 2024.

Below are the projects that were advertised last year, to give you an idea of projects that could be advertised in the future.

Delivering more productive, healthy, resilient and sustainable agriculture and food systems.

*CASE: These are CASE DTP studentships. As part of the programme, you will be required to undertake a placement with the CASE partner for a minimum of 3 months.

*AP: These are Standard DTP studentships with an associate partner where you will be required to spend time with each of the partners. You will be asked to apply to one of the partners (as listed in the ‘Host Institution’ column), but this is just for administration purposes. You will then be registered for your postgraduate studies at one of the partner universities of the lead supervisors.  Your registered university will be confirmed by the DTP following the interview stage of the selection process.

*JD: This project in collaboration with the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE) is subject to a joint degree award. Successful applicants will be registered at both these institutions, and graduates will be awarded a joint degree from these two institutions upon successful completion of the PhD programme.

You can find out more about the project supervisor listed below and the research team by visiting our meet our supervisors webpage.

Applying deep learning to salmonella genomics: A new horizon for source tracing of pathogens in the food chain Prof Kristen K Reyher University of Bristol Genomics, food safety, machine learning, bioinformatics, disease
Automated prediction of health and welfare in captive fish using behaviour from video *AP Prof Christos Ioannou / Prof Carlos Garcia de Leaniz University of Bristol (apply here) / Swansea University Fish, aquaculture, computer vision, Machine learning, Deep learning
Branching Out: Genetic and epigenetic control of axillary bud fate in berries *CASE Prof James Murray Cardiff University Plant breeding, genomics, epigenetics, plant architecture, gene expression
Can we predict and optimise the assembly and succession of host microbiomes? *CASE Dr Elze Hesse University of Exeter (Penryn) Microbiomes, crops, sustainable agriculture, disease suppression, yield
Climate change impacts on Fusarium Head Blight disease and mycotoxin risk in wheat production Prof Daniel Bebber University of Exeter (Streatham) Climate change, plant disease, mathematical modelling, mycotoxins, Fusarium
Developing markers of sentience in animals: Affect heuristics, interoception and valence detection Dr Elizabeth Paul University of Bristol Affect heuristic, interoception, rat, sentience
Elucidating transposon-fungus pathogenomics to deliver more productive, sustainable, and resilient agriculture Dr Alex Hayward University of Exeter (Penryn) Genomics, bioinformatics, evolution, pathogenic fungi, agriculture
Epigenetic mechanisms regulating post-harvest strawberry quality and aroma *CASE Prof Hilary Rogers Cardiff University Food quality, fruit development, gene expression, epigenetic control, plant breeding
Evolution of critically important aminoglycoside resistance in humans and farmed animals and transmission between them Prof Matthew Avison University of Bristol Bacteriology, molecular biology, structural biology, protein chemistry, genomics
Evolution of pesticide resistance as a complex trait: understanding genetic architecture to improve global health and sustainable agriculture *CASE Prof Jason Wolf University of Bath Experimental evolution, resistance management, quantitative genetics, applied evolution, population genetics
Exploiting animal personality to reduce chronic stress in captive fish populations Prof Alastair Wilson University of Exeter (Penryn) Personality, stress, fish, behaviour, genetics
Feeling the heat: understanding plant-pathogen interactions in a changing climate Dr Richard Haslam Rothamsted Research (Harpenden) (apply to University of Exeter) Abiotic stress, Triticum aestivum, Zymoseptoria tritici, virulence, disease resistance
From cognition to nutrition and health: how do bees differ in their choices for plants? *CASE Prof Natalie Hempel de Ibarra University of Exeter (Streatham) Diet and health, insect cognition, navigation, pollination, sustainable agriculture
Functional analysis of pollen expressed ligand-like peptides during plant reproduction Dr Barend de Graaf Cardiff University Reproduction, ligands, communication, pollen, pistil
Fungal-bacterial interactions in wetwood of British broadleaf trees *AP Dr Sarah Christofides / Dr Carrie Brady Cardiff University (apply here) / University of the West of England; UWE Wetwood, tree health, bacterial-fungal interactions, microbiology, ecology
Grow fast, die young: coordination of plant stem elongation and leaf senescence *CASE Prof Kerry Franklin University of Bristol Photobiology, growth, PIFs, senescence
How are peroxisomes attached to the ER in plants? Dr Imogen Sparkes University of Bristol Plant, confocal, physiology, cell biology, bioinformatics
How do insect microbial communities affect insecticide resistance? Dr Bram Kuijper University of Exeter (Penryn) Evolutionary theory, simulations, insect experiments, microbiota, transgenerational inheritance
Impact of fungal antioxidants on crop disease Dr Michael Deeks University of Exeter (Streatham) Phytopathogen, fungicide, wheat, bioimaging, antioxidant
Innovative approach to producing cell-free serotype 2 and 3 Marek’s Disease virus vaccines Prof Shahriar Behboudi University of Bristol Poultry vaccine, Marek’s disease virus, cell-free viral vector, Protection
Linking plant nutritional ecology with insect chemical ecology to promote regenerative agriculture *AP Dr Jozsef Vuts / Dr Pete Maxfield Rothamsted Research (Harpenden) / University of the West of England; UWE (apply here) Pest, food security, microbiology, ecology, fertiliser
Living on the edge: agrochemical pollutant contamination in tropical forest insects *CASE Dr Filipe Machado França University of Bristol Sustainable agriculture, ecotoxicology, applied ecology, pesticides, tropical insects
Map based cloning and characterisation of plant loci conferring resistance to a root infecting fungus Dr Kim Hammond-Kosack Rothamsted Research (Harpenden) (apply to University of Exeter) Plant root-pathogen interactions, genomic/pan genome analyses, marker development, map-based cloning, gene function validation involving AI-assisted bioimaging
Microbial solutions for tackling herbicide-resistant weeds Dr Dana MacGregor Rothamsted Research (Harpenden) (apply to University of Bath) Plant-microbe interactions, herbicide-resistant weeds, arabidopsis MAGIC lines, molecular microbiology, weed molecular biology
Microbiome-parasite relationships and dynamics in livestock in response to pasture management and ecological stressors *AP Dr Jordana Rivero / Dr Konstans Wells Rothamsted Research (North Wyke) / Swansea University (apply here) Host-parasite interactions, microbiome dynamics, livestock health and sustainability, pasture management, bioinformatics and ecological modelling
Molecular control of resource mobilisation in plants Dr Vinod Kumar University of Exeter (Streatham) Environmental signalling, energy signalling, resource mobilisation, metabolic adaptation, crop yield
Multi-camera machine vision of a whole cattle herd for assessing the impact of interventions for environmental sustainability *CASE Prof Andrew Dowsey University of Bristol Food security, net-zero, environmental sustainability, deep learning, artificial intelligence
Networking algal microbiomes for sustainable aquaculture and biotechnology *AP Dr Fredric Windsor / Dr Eva Sonnenschein Cardiff University (apply here) / Swansea University Microbiology, biological interactions, metagenomics, ecology, networks
Plastic Fish: assessing the impacts of plastic pollution on aquaculture food security Prof Jo Cable Cardiff University Plastic pollution, food security, aquaculture, fish welfare
Quantifying the impact of exposure to multiple anthropogenic stressors on bumblebee health *CASE Dr Harry Siviter University of Bristol Pollination, pollinator decline, food security, bee decline,
Searching for the functional core for a microbiome-facilitated crop production: the case of Pseudomonas spp. in wheat rhizosphere Dr Vanessa Nessner Kavamura Noguchi Rothamsted Research (Harpenden) (apply to University of Bath) Rhizosphere microorganisms, functional core, sustainable agriculture, Pseudomonas spp.
Sub-cellular localisation and functional effects of micro/nanoplastics on aquaculture fish with coherent Raman microscopy Prof Paola Borri Cardiff University Optical microscopy, cell imaging, coherent Raman scattering, petrochemical plastics and bioplastics, aquaculture fish
Sustainable agriculture for the future environment (SAFE) – Optimising the nitrogen use efficiency of intercropping to mitigate pollution and climate change Dr Ian Bull University of Bristol Efficiency, fixation, isotopes, legumes nitrogen
The effect of receptor like kinase mutations on wheat yield *CASE Dr Jill Harrison University of Bristol Wheat, yield, receptor-like kinase, CRISPR
The genetic control of pea growth and yield under environmental stress Dr Beatriz Gonçalves University of Bristol Plant architecture, branching, yield, environmental stress, pea
The mechanistic basis of sensory processing for bee-plant interactions Prof Natalie Hempel de Ibarra University of Exeter (Streatham) Insect, pollination, neural and sensory mechanisms, learning and memory, behaviour
The visual ecology of crop pests and their interactions with pest control products *AP Prof Martin Stevens / Dr William Allen University of Exeter (Penryn) (apply here) / Swansea University Animal vision, visual ecology, visual modelling, integrated pest management, horticulture
Time-resolved kinetic and structural understanding of essential enzymes to develop novel herbicides *CASE Prof Nicholas Harmer University of Exeter (Streatham) X-ray crystallography, protein structure, biological sciences, plant sciences, biochemistry
Transient activation of herbicide resistance circuits via sugar-based nanomaterials in crops *CASE Dr Heather Whitney University of Bristol Crops, herbicide, nanomaterials, synthetic biology
Understanding and improving the hailstorm resistance of crop plants Dr Ulrike Bauer University of Exeter (Streatham) Plant science, hail, damage, biomechanics, physiology
Understanding plant chromosome architecture and evolution Dr Hans-Wilhelm Nuetzmann University of Exeter (Streatham) Plants, chromatin, evolution, epigenetics, wheat
Understanding the epigenetic basis for variability in stress responses in plants Dr Angharad Jones Cardiff University Genetics, environmental biology, plant cell biology, genomics, climate science
Understanding the molecular basis of Sitophilus olfaction: towards novel integrated pest management strategies for weevils *AP Dr David Withall / Dr Joel Loveridge Rothamsted Research (Harpenden) / Swansea University (apply here) Sitophilus oryzae, Sitophilus granarius, chemical ecology, food security, insect olfaction
When to grow up? The spatiotemporal regulation of shoot maturation in plants Dr Jim Fouracre University of Bristol Plant development, plant biology, genetics, transcriptomics, epigenetics
Why do plant organelles move? Generation and application of novel tools to study organelle dynamics in plants *CASE Dr Imogen Sparkes University of Bristol Plant, cell biology, microscopy, plant physiology