Are you interesting in working on the fore-front of biological control in a multidisciplinary project? Do you enjoy combining field work in greenhouses with experiments in the laboratory?
If so, we have two PhD candidate positions available in the NWO funded project: “Aphids out of control? The role of symbiont-driven resistance to parasitoids in greenhouse biocontrol success”. Aphids are major crop pests, both in greenhouses and in the field. They are now still predominantly controlled using pesticides, which is not environmentally friendly, nor sustainable. A very effective alternative is biocontrol through the use of parasitoids that prevent early-stage aphid population expansion. Unfortunately, endosymbiotic bacteria associated with aphids can confer resistance against parasitoid attacks leading to biocontrol failure. Current knowledge is scarce on endosymbiont variation. Moreover, research about the functionality and the specificity of aphid-endosymbiont associations, and the role that the symbiont community plays in resistance is mostly lacking.
In this project, two PhD students will work closely together to provide this essential information through, (i) monitoring and establishing the extent of aphid-endosymbiont associations, aphid resistance, and parasitoid virulence, (ii) unravelling the aphid-symbiont interactions and mechanisms of defence, (iii) determining the aphid-parasitoid interactions and variation in virulence, in order to (iv) deliver advice on biocontrol resource development and biocontrol application strategies.
Find more information here or go to the WUR website to apply!