Faculty of Science
Characterisation of a novel potassium channel from phytopathogenic fungi
Project Supervisors: Dr Anthony Lewis (School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth); Dr Andy Corran (Syngenta)
Application Deadline: 22nd August 2012
A four year PhD studentship funded by a BBSRC Industrial Case Partnership Award with Syngenta is available to work in the Ion Channel Research Group headed Dr Anthony Lewis within the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Portsmouth. The bursary stipend per annum is £16,590 (including stipend top-up by Syngenta).
Plant fungal pathogens are responsible for significant agricultural and economic losses worldwide, endangering food and biofuel crops. The effectiveness of current fungicides to treat agricultural infections is declining due to evolving fungal resistance, and new targets for future anti-microbial strategies are required.
Emerging evidence indicates that plasma membrane potassium channels, named TOK, could be novel targets for future antimicrobial compounds for combating deleterious fungal pathogens in both humans and plants. TOK is a plasma membrane potassium ion channel found only in fungi and no similar protein exists in humans, animals or plants. The unique fungal nature of TOK channels makes them ideal targets for future fungicidal compounds. However, little is known about the expression, function, regulation and pharmacology of TOK channels in plant pathogenic fungi.
The purpose of this research project will be to characterise the TOK ion channel protein and its role in cell physiology and virulence of phytopathogenic fungi utilising electrophysiology, molecular biology, computational modelling, genetics and microscopy. It is hoped that ultimately this will allow the design and direct validation of compound targeting TOK channel proteins providing a unique strategy to combat and reduce the prevalence of agricultural fungal infections.
The research will be conducted in a newly refurbished laboratory within the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Portsmouth; however a minimum 3 months will be spent on site at Syngenta, Jealott's Hill, Reading.
Candidates should already have or be expecting to graduate this year with a 1st class or 2:1 degree in a bioscience subject (physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, biology or related subject).
Informal enquires of any nature regarding the project can be directed to the project supervisor, Dr Anthony Lewis, by email (email@example.com) before submitting an application form.
Eligibility information for this PhD studentship can be found at www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf