Funded undergraduate summer studentship opportunity at Manchester
24 April 2018
Applications invited to study "The consequences of underground plant-to-plant signalling for aphid fitness"
Supervisor: Professor David Johnson
There is now unequivocal evidence that plants emit signals of insect herbivory that are detected by neighbouring uninfested plants. Our lab has recently discovered that plant-to-plant signalling can occur via symbiotically associated mycorrhizal fungi present on the roots of most (~80%) plants, and which can form common mycorrhizal networks (CMNs), interconnecting the root systems of neighbouring plants.
It is currently unknown how the response of uninfested plants to signals of herbivory impacts the behaviour, activity and fitness of pests, or what the cost of responding to these signals are to the plant. In this adventurous studentship, we will address these knowledge gaps and contribute to our overall understanding of the role that belowground plant-plant signalling plays in suppressing activity of pests.
The project will establish a new experiment that aligns to existing work, using the Sorghum bicolor x Melanaphis sacchari system (latter a Defra listed pest). The student will receive close supervision from academic and technical staff at Manchester.