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PhD student at the Lancaster University (UK)

The Lancaster University is looking for a PhD student for three years (full 3 year studentship)

Deadline for Applications: Mon 27 February 2017
Funding Type: Directly Funded PhD Project (European Students Only)
Type of Study: PhD

Supervisors: Prof Ian Dodd (Lancaster) and Dr Richard Whalley (Rothamsted Research)

To maintain yields, UK potato crops are usually irrigated, but this irrigation can affect soil properties. Thus boom or gun irrigation can damage the ridge causing slumping and loss of porosity (increased bulk density) while drip irrigation may result in uneven water distribution. Incorporating organic amendments may mitigate these impacts, but the mechanisms by which soil management and irrigation interact to affect crop yields are poorly understood.

Plant roots sense changes in soil strength and soil moisture, thereby altering phytohormone production and export to the shoots (root-to-shoot signalling). In the shoot, these signals regulate leaf expansion (affecting radiation interception), gas exchange (determining photosynthesis) and ultimately canopy senescence (critical for tuber bulking). However, signalling responses to factorial combinations of soil strength and soil moisture are poorly understood, as are the regulation of whole plant (as opposed to single leaf) responses to this signalling.

This project will investigate the physiological mechanisms by which changes in soil properties ultimately affect crop yields. Laboratory experiments will measure root signal export and whole plant leaf expansion / photosynthesis of plants exposed to different soil bulk densities and water content. Field experiments (some of which will be based at NIAB in Cambridge: will assess signalling and its impacts on photosynthesis and canopy dynamics. Concurrent measurements of soil properties (bulk density, penetrometer resistance) will allow development of a biophysical model to predict signalling and the physiological impacts of altered soil conditions. Experiments will examine plant responses to changes in soil properties in controlled environment and glasshouse studies in constructed soils, and in field experiments where potatoes are grown in soils that have been managed differently.

Funding Notes

Full 3 year studentship (UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£14,296 2016/17 [tax free])) for UK/EU students. Unfortunately studentships are not available to non-UK/EU applicants.

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